At least five people were killed in renewed clashes between police and protesters in Venezuela, where a 48-hour strike called for by the opposition is taking place.
The Venezuela prosecutor’s office said a 49-year-old man was killed during a protest in Carabobo state and a 16-year old died in El Paraiso, Caracas on Thursday.
That added to the previously announced deaths of a 23-year-old man and a 30-year-old man killed in western Merida state and a 16-year-old boy killed in the Caracas neighborhood of Petare during clashes on Wednesday.
The latest casualties bring to 108 the number of people killed in four months of violent protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, the AFP news agency said.
Maduro’s opponents at home and abroad are attempting to pressure him into halting his plans to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution with an election for a Constituent Assembly on July 30.
The opposition-led two-day strike is the latest effort to bring Venezuela to a standstill.
Highways were mostly empty, and businesses shuttered across the country as millions of people observed the protest.
Activists threw up roadblocks in many neighbourhoods to keep others from getting to work, but the protest soon turned violent.
The strike came as the United States announced sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials.
A defiant Maduro hit back late on Wednesday, holding a campaign style rally where he presented some of those hit by US sanctions with replicas of a sword belonging to Latin American independence hero Simon Bolivar.
“Congratulations for these imperialist sanctions,” he said, before handing out the symbolic swords. “For us, it’s a recognition of morality, loyalty to the nation, and civic honesty.”
Maduro accuses the US of fomenting the unrest against him and his government, with the help of the conservative opposition.
source: Al Jazeera