Chavez supporters, protesters clash in Venezuela
Caracas: Armed with stones and bottles, backers of late President Hugo Chavez attacked student protesters as they marched against perceived bias by Venezuela`s electoral council on Thursday.
The attacks left at least 10 students reported injured and raised tensions in a country already sharply divided ahead of next month`s presidential election.
Hundreds of students were marching to the electoral council in downtown Caracas when they came upon a police barricade. About 100 Chavez supporters quickly gathered behind the barricade and began throwing objects at the approaching students. A few of the students lobbed the rocks and bottles back at the other side. Several Chavez supporters pulled one student to the ground and repeatedly kicked him.
Police tear gas scattered most of the students, leaving approximately 100 protesters in the street. Splinter groups of Chavez supporters tried to attack them from side streets, but were repelled by police shooting plastic bullets.
"The government supporters have ambushed us," student leader Vilcar Fernandez told The Associated Press.
It was unclear how many people had been injured, but student leader activist Francisco Rodriguez said at least 10 people from his side had been hurt, most of them hit with rocks.
At one point, about 100 students were trapped by Chavistas who had blocked all the surrounding streets, preventing them from immediately leaving. Police later escorted the students out of the area.
The protesters were demanding the electoral council eliminate requirements that voters have their fingerprints recorded before voting and that it prevent the government from seizing television and radio airwaves at will to let Chavez`s chosen successor Nicolas Maduro, the country`s acting leader, to promote his candidacy.
They were also demanding that Defense Minister Diego Molero, who has publicly voiced support for Maduro, step down from his post.
The constitution forbids the military from taking sides in politics, although soldiers are permitted to vote. Maduro is competing against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who has strongly criticized the electoral council for failing to stop government institutions from favoring Maduro ahead of the April 14 vote.
"We are here to demand fair and clean elections," said Juan Urdaneta, a student leader who traveled hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the western state of Zulia to participate in the demonstration.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- What Muslims think about Ram Mandir issue?
- Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad barred from flying after his assault on AI staffer
- Martyrs' Day: Nation remembers Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru for their sacrifice
- London terrorist attack leaves five dead, including police officer
- Do not put unnecessary pressure on police: PM Modi tells UP BJP MPs
- Hukumdev Narain Yadav to be new Vice-President of India?
- 400 Trinamool Congress members including many TMC stalwarts join BJP in Tripura
- Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru were hanged on 23 March 1931 – This is how PM Modi paid tribute today
- Unable to meet educational expenses, Muslim girl writes to PM Narendra Modi – Know what happened next
- Mulayam Singh Yadav's son Prateek, his daughter-in-law Aparna meet UP CM Yogi Adityanath - Know why