Venezuelan protests kill three, injure 25

Venezuelan government and rebel groups have accused each other of responsibility for at least three deaths in recent protests.

It is the worst unrest since President Nicolas Maduro’s election win last year.

The protests

Thousands of students were led by opposition leaders Feb. 12 through the streets of Caracas and other cities protesting against poor security, inflation, and a lack of basic commodities, Al Jazeera reports.

The march was an escalation of university protests that began two weeks ago.

Twenty-three people were injured and 25 people were arrested in the protests, a government official said.

Four police cars were set on fire and government offices were vandalized by opposition protestors. Demonstrators are also said to have thrown stones and burned tires.  Many had their faces covered.

President Maduro said he would not allow a coup d’etat and ordered the arrest of opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez.

Passing blame

But the opposition blamed armed government military groups called “colectivos” for violently intervening in dozens of protests over the years, scattering and frightening supporters.

President Maduro blamed small fascist groups for infiltrating the protest. He also accused the opposition of trying to insight a coup by imitating protests that briefly ousted late President Hugo Chavez in 2002.

Lopez said the government planned the bloodshed to disrupt and discredit what should have been a peaceful movement.

Lopez, a U.S. educated former mayor of a Caracas district, has been blamed for the protests’ deaths but told Reuters TV he is innocent.


With information and photos from Al Jazeera English

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