At least 12 killed in Venezuela as violent protests continue

Venezuela’s Justice Ministry said on Friday 12 people were killed in violent incidents in Caracas overnight during violent anti-government protests.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A worker looks for valuables scattered in the damaged goods in a convenience store, after it was looted in Caracas.

Updated Apr 22, 2017

Following a wave of anti-government demonstrations,12 people were killed in violent incidents in the capital Caracas overnight, said Venezuela’s Justice Ministry on Friday.

The deaths occurred in the capital's southwestern El Valle district, the ministry said in a statement, adding six people were also wounded.

The public prosecutor's office said later on Friday it was investigating 12 deaths in El Valle, adding that "some" victims had died from being electrocuted.

According to a firefighter, eight people were electrocuted to death during a looting incident in Caracas.

TRT World's Kisha Ferguson reports.

"Yesterday around 9 or 10 (pm) things got pretty scary, a group of people carrying weapons came down ... and started looting," said Hane Mustafa, owner of a small supermarket in El Valle.

"The security situation is not in the hands of the government. We lost everything here," said Mustafa.

"People starting looting the businesses and yelling that they were hungry and that they want the government out," said 25-year-old Daniela Alvarado who sells vegetables in the El Valle area.

"We're afraid (the stores) are going to run out of everything, that tomorrow there won't be any food."

Security forces patrolled much of Caracas on Friday, including El Valle.

Separately, a man was killed by a gunshot in the Caracas slum of Petare on Thursday night, municipal mayor Carlos Ocariz said on Friday.

The toll brings to 20 the number of people killed in three weeks of violent anti-government demonstrations.

Promise to keep up protests

A demonstrator throws a molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in Caracas, Venezuela, April 20, 2017. (Reuters)

Opposition leaders have promised to keep up their protests, drawing support from a public angered by the country's collapsing economy.

They demand President Nicolas Maduro's government call general elections, free almost 100 jailed opposition activists and respect the autonomy of the opposition-led Congress.

They are calling for community-level protests across the country on Friday, a white-clad "silent" march in Caracas on Saturday to commemorate those killed in the unrest, and a nationwide "sit-in" blocking Venezuela's main roads on Monday.

But ruling Socialist Party leaders describe the protesters as hoodlums who are damaging public property and disrupting public order to overthrow the government with the support of ideological adversaries in Washington.

"This wounded and failed opposition is trying to generate chaos in key areas of the city and convince the world that we're in some sort of civil war, the same playbook used for Syria, for Libya and for Iraq," said Socialist Party official Freddy Bernal.

Tensions have raised over last month when the Supreme Court briefly assumed the powers of the Congress.

The protests were further fuelled when the government barred the opposition's best-known leader, two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, from holding public office.

The OPEC nation's economy has been in free-fall since the collapse of oil prices in 2014.

TRTWorld and agencies