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Death Toll Jumps to 20 in Venezuela Protests

Published: April 22, 2017
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The death toll in three weeks of violence at anti-government protests in Venezuela jumped to 20 people after a night of clashes and pillaging left 12 people dead in Caracas, reports AFP.

Riot police and pro-government vigilantes fought running battles on the capital's east, west and south sides with protesters demanding the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro.

At nightfall on Friday, more protests and pockets of unrest were reported in eastern Caracas, and in Macuto in the neighboring state of Vargas.

Opposition leaders have called new protests for Saturday and Monday.

On Saturday, they plan to march in silence to the Catholic Church's episcopal seats nationwide. They plan to erect roadblocks on Monday to grind the country to a halt.

Protesters blame Maduro -- heir of the leftist "Bolivarian revolution" launched by the late Hugo Chavez in 1999 -- for an economic crisis marked by severe shortages of food, medicine and basic goods.

Maduro says the protests against him are part of a US-backed coup plot.

Senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles slammed Maduro as a "dictator" and "mythomaniac."

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