At least a dozen killed during overnight protests in Venezuela


Venezuela’s Public Ministry confirmed on Friday that at least a dozen people were killed as protests in the capital of Caracas turned extremely violent. Six more people are believed to have been seriously wounded.

Most of the deaths occurred in Caracas’ working-class neighborhood of El Valle. Opposition leaders said a group of 11 people were electrocuted while trying to steal a refrigerator from a bakery protected by an electric fence.

El Valle residents said their neighborhood in the early hours of Friday had become with engulfed gunfire, blazes and looting. Witnesses reported an armed group masked rioters descended on an area known as “the little market” filled with bakeries and supermarkets. A maternity hospital named after Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chavez was swamped with tear gas, forcing mothers and new born children to be evacuated.

Footage shared on social media showed an armored police vehicle in El Valle being set ablaze.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said armed groups controlled by the opposition and government foes were responsible for the hospital attack. The former opposition candidate for president Henrique Capriles refuted the allegations, saying “We reject and do not accept those irresponsible declarations.”

Opposition leaders also accused the government of repressing demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets, while standing by as business were ransacked.

Read more: 5 things to understand about oil-rich, cash-poor Venezuela


On Friday, Vice President Tareck El Aissami warned that Venezuela was facing an “unconventional war” led by opposition groups working alongside criminal gangs.

Unrest has spiraled across Venezuela with hundreds of thousands of protestors having taken to the streets since the government’s loyalist Supreme Court opted to stymie parliament of its last vestiges of power three weeks – a move later reversed following a storm of international derision.

Still, protestors accuse President Nicolas Maduro of trying to forge a dictatorship in a country that has been plagued by a deep economic crisis, wide-spread food and medical shortages and rising crime. Opponents meanwhile are pushing for Maduro’s removal from office through early rejections.

Maduro in turn has accused protestors seeking to oust him of being backed by the United States.

Read more: Hope is stronger than fear in Venezuela

Trying to return to normality before fresh protests begin

Security forces watched on as residents and workers on Friday cleaned up the wreckage left by the protests. In El Valle, groups of hungry people, including children, were seen scavenging for food amid the damage.

Both sides appeared to be regrouping after two days of violence, ahead of fresh demonstrations planned by the opposition for Saturday and Monday. The opposition has asked protestors to honor the victims on Saturday by dressing in white and marching in silence.