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Hundreds arrested in Venezuela looting

June 17, 2016

Police in Venezuela have arrested 400 people after riots broke out over a deepening food crisis in the struggling South American country. At least three people have been killed in the unrest.

Long lines at supermarkets have become routine in Venezuela
Image: Reuters/I. Alvarado

Dozens of shops were looted in the eastern city of Cumana, the latest flashpoint in a crisis triggered by severe shortages of food and other basic goods.

The governor of Sucre state, where Cumana is located, told state television channel VTV that police had detained "more than 400 people" after crowds of angry protesters stormed supermarkets and other businesses.

"We will follow the investigation until it leads us to the masterminds" of the disturbances, Governor Luis Acuna said.

The oil-rich country is suffering an economic crisis sparked by a plunge in global crude prices over the past two years. Dwindling supplies of food, medicines and other necessities have led to violent protests across the country and calls for President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

The Venezuelan opposition accuses Maduro of mismanaging the economy and is seeking to oust him with a referendum. Maduro's ruling Socialist Party, on the other hand, blames the crisis on an "economic war" waged by the business elite.

At least three people have been killed in the latest wave of violence, but some sources put the death toll at five.

nm/kl (AFP, EPD)