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  • VENEZUELA CRISIS

    Opposition, security forces face off in eastern Caracas

    20 de abril de 2017

    Caracas, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Groups comprised of hundreds of anti-government protesters on Thursday faced off with Venezuelan security forces in different parts of Caracas after several of the protesters' attempts to march downtown were blocked by police using tear gas and rubber bullets.

    Thousands of demonstrators, although a smaller number than had turned out on Wednesday, gathered on Thursday at the same 26 points around the capital where they had congregated yesterday to try and push towards the Ombudsman's Office to ask the head of that entity to support the opposition-controlled Parliament's initiative to remove seven Supreme Court justices, whom lawmakers accuse of staging a "coup d'etat" against the Constitution.

    Contingents of the Bolivarian National Guard (Venezuela's militarized police) and the Bolivarian National Police dispersed the marchers with tear gas and rubber bullets, EFE confirmed.

    There were clashes at numerous points throughout the city, including along the Francisco Fajardo Highway, the metro area's main traffic conduit.

    In El Rosal, a naked young man climbed onto the turret of a police armored car and tried to talk with the crew, who used force to remove him, apparently shooting him in the back with buckshot or rubber bullets.

    The opposition MUD coalition had called the demonstrations for Thursday to continue the massive protests staged nationwide on Wednesday, but - in contrast to the activity yesterday - government supporters did not turn out to stage their own demonstrations.

    Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Public Ministry on Thursday confirmed that three people died, 62 were injured and 312 arrested during Wednesday's anti-government protests in the Caracas metro area and in 14 states around the country.

    The Attorney General's Office said in a communique that a 23-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy were killed by gunfire as they were walking near areas where protests were under way, although they were not personally involved in the demonstrations.

    Authorities also expressed regret for the death of Bolivarian National Guard Sgt. Niumar Jose San Clemente Barrios, who was shot by a sniper in the city of Los Salias, in the Caracas metro area, according to Ombudsman Tarek William Saab.

    The AG's Office said that 19 people were injured in Tachira, 15 in Caracas, eight in Merida and smaller numbers in eight other states.

    Meanwhile, of the 312 people arrested, 30 were taken into custody by security forces and police in the Caracas metro area, 85 in Bolivar, 42 in Nueva Esparta, 33 in Barinas, 21 in Portuguesa, 17 in Monagas, 15 each in Carabobo and Cojedes, 14 each in Aragua and Zulia, 11 in Falcon, as well as smaller numbers in four other states, the Public Ministry said.