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Venezuela assembly orders probe of 'traitors' supporting US sanctions

Venezuela's newly installed constitutional assembly has demanded that opposition lawmakers be investigated for treason for supporting US sanctions. One delegate suggested "traitors" should be shot.

Venezuela's new constitutional assembly has ordered prosecutors to open treason investigations against opposition figures who support US sanctions on the embattled Latin American country's economy.

The US last week announced new sanctions on Venezuela's financial sector in response to what Washington described as the socialist government's slide towards dictatorship under President Nicolas Maduro.

The loyalist constitutional assembly, which is to write a new constitution, was installed earlier this month after a controversial vote boycotted by the opposition.

Read more: 'Resistance': Venezuela's parliament dismisses power grab

Tuesday's decree did not mention who in the opposition would be targeted as "traitors of the patria," but it comes after Maduro personally singled out Julio Borges, the head of the opposition controlled congress.

Traitors 'will have to be shot' 

Iris Varela, the former corrections minister and now a constitutional assembly delegate, received applause from other delegates on Tuesday when she said those who betray Venezuela "will have to be shot."

The United States said the sanctions were designed to target the cash-strapped government and avoid inflicting further suffering on Venezuelans who already face critical food and medicine shortages.

Maduro has accused the opposition of engaging in an "economic war" in cahoots with the United States.

The opposition blames Maduro's policies for the collapse of the oil-rich nation's economy.

Watch video 01:03

Hunger crisis hits Venezuela

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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