Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Three more die in Venezuela’s student protests

AFP, CARACAS

Three more people were killed in protest-hit Venezuela’s north on Wednesday, as Venezuelan police fired tear gas and water cannons to push back scores of rock-hurling students in the capital.

About 3,000 students marched in Caracas to mark a month since the first deaths in weeks of anti-government demonstrations that have now killed at least 24 people. Similar opposition protests took place in the cities of San Cristobal, Merida and Valencia.

The demonstrations have been fueled by public discontent over deteriorating living conditions in the oil-rich South American country, where violent crime, shortages and inflation have combined to create the most serious challenge yet for leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

A student and a civilian were killed during protests in Venezuela’s third city, Valencia, while a member of the Bolivarian National Guard died in clashes in the nearby city of Naguanagua.

The governor of Carabobo State, home to both cities, blamed anti-government “snipers” for the student’s death in a friendly fire incident.

Local media said Jesus Acosta, 20, died from a shot to the head near his home, adding that he was not participating in protests at the time.

Guillermo Sanchez, 42, died of a bullet wound and was shot outside his home, Valencia’s opposition Mayor Miguel Cocchiola said on Twitter.

Ameliach said Captain Ramso Ernesto Bracho Bravo died from a gunshot.

Since the protests began, opposition leaders and students, as well as Venezuelan government authorities, have accused each other of backing radical groups that attack demonstrations with firearms.

The Venezuelan president announced this week he was banning any protests in the center of the capital as long as the opposition refuses to hold talks with the government.

The students turned out anyway, chanting slogans and demanding the release of protesters detained in earlier demonstrations.

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