Violence at anti-government protests in Venezuela has claimed at least three lives. Demonstrators have been calling for President Maduro's resignation amid skyrocketing inflation and a shortage of common goods.
Violence broke out at demonstrations in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on Wednesday, leaving at least three people dead. They all died of gun shot wounds.
The first victim was 24-year-old student Bazil D'Acosta, according to Venezuelan officials. A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office, Luisa Ortega Diaz, said the second victim was a member of a pro-government group, which had been holding a counter demonstration in support of President Nicolas Maduro. His identity could not be immediately confirmed.
The third victim was killed in a separate rally in the wealthier neighborhood of Chacao and has not yet been identified.
National Assembly President Diosdad Cabello called the violence "a provocation from the right" and called for "calm and sanity."
Initial reports provided few details about the circumstances surrounding the deaths on Wednesday. Gunmen on motorcycles had reportedly shot into a crowd gathered outside the attorney general's office in Caracas. The incident coincided with clashes between security forces and anti-government demonstrators.
The violence followed peaceful protests held the previous day in the capital city. Government opponents have been calling for the resignation of President Maduro, who rose to power after long-time leader Hugo Chavez died last year. They accuse the left-wing leader of supporting economic policies that have driven inflation to more than 50 percent, led to a shortage of hard currency and consumer goods.
Maduro, 51, has denounced the protesters as right-wing "fascists" who are trying to destabilize the country.
"A Nazi-fascist faction has emerged that wants to take Venezuela down the path of violence," he told supporters gathered in Caracas. "What we're going to have is peace and prosperity."
At least 20 demonstrators have been arrested since the most recent wave of anti-Maduro rallies began two weeks ago.
kms/ch (AP, AFP, Reuters)