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Venezuelan opposition leaders wounded in anti-government march

Two Venezuelan opposition leaders have been hurt after security forces broke up protests against President Nicolas Maduro. Some 59 people have been killed in clashes since the protests started on April 1.

Thousands of Venezuelans demonstrated on Monday after the opposition said it would intensify pressure on Maduro to stop what they see as his tightening grip on power.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles (pictured above center) said he had been beaten by the National Guard as he left a rally that had been broken up by security forces using tear gas.

MP Carlos Paparoni said he had been hit in the head with tear gas canisters at the same protest.

Maduro plans to set up a constituent assembly, which the opposition believes he will fill with party cronies. "If we allow the fraud that they want to call a constituent assembly, Venezuela will be lost," Freddy Guevara, opposition deputy speaker of the National Assembly legislature, said on Monday.

A demonstrator rests near burning trucks while rallying against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on May 27.

A demonstrator rests near burning trucks during a previous march

The opposition also blame Maduro for rampant inflation and shortages of food and medicines. US bank Goldman Sachs came under fire from the opposition on Monday after it bought bonds that had been held by Venezuela's central bank in a transaction seen as a lifeline to Maduro's administration. 

Ambushed

"We were ambushed," said two-time presidential candidate Capriles, who was accompanying protesters marching to the headquarters of the government ombudsman's office.

"This government is capable of killing or burning anything," Capriles told a press conference, adding that 16 others were injured in the march. He also said he would file a complaint about the issue with state prosecutors.

Another opposition MP - Jose Olivares - tweeted a picture of a bruise on Capriles' face that he said was the result of a soldier hitting him with a helmet during the clashes.

He wrote: "TODAY it has become evident that Maduro is a COWARD! Today they showed they are escalating fear by ordering persecution! ENOUGH!

Paparoni was also knocked to the ground by water cannon sprayed from a truck, requiring that he receive stitches in his head, Olivares said.

There were anti-government protests in other cities, with San Cristobal in the western state of Tachira, seeing the largest mobilisations outside the capital.

Watch video 01:15

Venezuela protesters clash with police

jbh/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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