Teenager killed in Venezuela political unrest

June 8, 2017 10:34 am
Fierce clashes between police and people opposing the government of President Nicolas Maduro in have claimed the life of a teenager in the capital, Caracas, raising the overall death toll from recent unrest in the country to 66.
Violence erupted on Wednesday after security forces using armored vehicles, water cannons, and tear gas blocked protesters from marching to the national election board’s headquarters in the center of the capital.
The demonstrators, with masks and home-made shields, responded by pelting stones and Molotov cocktails.

Demonstrators are sprayed by a riot police water cannon during a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, June 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Opposition lawmakers alleged that the 17-year-old teenager, identified as Neomar Lander, was killed by a tear gas canister fired straight at him. The government, however, claimed that Lander died when a homemade mortar exploded in his hands during a confrontation with National Guard troops.
Videos and pictures circulating on social media showed medics trying to resuscitate the lifeless 17-year-old as he bled profusely in the chest.
The state prosecutor’s office said the circumstances of the boy’s death were being investigated, without giving details.

An injured demonstrator is helped during riots at a rally against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s government, in Caracas, June 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Earlier, Venezuelan Defense Minister General Vladimir Padrino Lopez had called on the members of the military to refrain from excessive use of force and committing “atrocities” against protesters.
Critics denounce Maduro as a “dictator,” demanding elections, the freedom of jailed activists, permits for the entry of foreign aid, and autonomy for the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
“The government has closed all the democratic doors. So what else can we do? Going onto the streets is the only option we have left,” said opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who attended the Wednesday protest.
“Their violence does not intimidate us, their violence does not make us recoil. We know that the only possible destiny is the one we conquer in the present. Are we afraid of the repression? Of course we are. We are afraid of losing an eye due to gas, a bomb blowing up in our skull but we are even more frightened this will last forever,” a protester said.

Riot police clash with demonstrators during a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, June 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Latin American country has been the scene of more than two months of violent clashes between protesters and security forces since the Supreme Court stripped the opposition-controlled parliament of its powers in March.
Although that decision was later revoked, protesters continued to take to the streets across the country against the president, who is now convening a constituent assembly to write a new constitution, further angering the protesters.
The left-wing government says the protests are incited by the Unites Stated and has accused the opposition of hiring armed gangs. The opposition, too, has said the government has been using armed groups to intimidate opponents.
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