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Venezuelan opposition politician murdered at election rally

A member of an opposition party in Venezuela has been shot dead at a political rally ahead of a major election. UNASUR, South America's regional block, has condemned the murder.

Luis Manuel Diaz was shot dead on Wednesday evening while campaigning, a little over a week before parliamentary elections are to be held in Venezuela.

Diaz was the regional leader of the Democratic Action party for Guarico state, and a staunch critic of the country's current president, Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez.

The politician was reportedly shot near the stage where he had delivered a speech. The wife of another major opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, was also in attendance at the rally.

Henry Ramos Allup, the chairman of the Democratic Action party, took to Twitter shortly after the murder, writing that Diaz was killed by an armed gang.

Ramos later clarified that the shots did not come from a vehicle as he originally tweeted, saying that Diaz was shot at close range.

UNASUR reacts

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) condemned the killing: "We call on the relevant national authorities to carry out an exhaustive investigation into this reprehensible act, in order to prevent impunity, and vehemently call on all political sectors to help maintain a climate of peace and harmony during the election campaign."

The 12-country regional block will be monitoring the December 6 parliamentary elections in Venezuela. Polls have suggested that President Maduro's government could lose seats in the national assembly.

During the summer of 2014, political opponents led massive anti-government protests that prompted the arrest of Lopez and the deaths of 43 people, according to government figures.

blc/msh (AFP, Reuters, epd)

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