Students spearhead new protests in Caracas

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Opposition students protesting against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro move through a cloud of tear gas at the Venezuelan Central University (UCV) campus in Caracas, on April 3, 2014. The Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela accused the leftist administration of President Maduro on Wednesday of seeking to impose a “totalitarian government” and blaming it for protests shaking the country. AFP PHOTO

Opposition students protesting against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro move through a cloud of tear gas at the Venezuelan Central University (UCV) campus in Caracas, on April 3, 2014. The Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela accused the leftist administration of President Maduro on Wednesday of seeking to impose a “totalitarian government” and blaming it for protests shaking the country. AFP PHOTO

CARACAS: Venezuelan riot police fired water cannons and tear gas Thursday (Friday in Manila) at stone-throwing student protesters in the capital Caracas, leaving at least seven injured.

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Demonstrators had initially been riled by armed vigilantes they link to the government. Riding motorcycles, the men had fired guns into the air at the Central University of Venezuela’s campus.

Students, some of them masked, beat two motorcyclists.

The confrontations were the latest violence in two months of near-daily protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government that have seen 39 people killed and 550 injured. Hundreds of oppo–sition and student demonstrators have been detained.

A march called by student leaders had sought to leave the university for the offices of the vice president who is in charge of the economy when the national guard and riot police intercepted them.

The injured suffered bruises, fractures and open wounds, student leader Hilda Rubi Gonzalez said, adding that they were all in “stable” condition.

At least four photojournalists and cameramen from local media were attacked and robbed, according to the victims and press freedom groups.

At night, the historical Caracas district of Chacao, which is an opposition bastion, was the scene of clashes between a small group of masked men armed with stones and riot police, who responded with tear gas.

Protesters are venting their anger over soaring crime, high inflation and shortages of essential goods.

AFP

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