Venezuela crisis: Deadly clashes amid tense election for assembly
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July 31, 2017

Venezuela’s election of a controversial new assembly has been disrupted by violence, with widespread protests and at least 10 deaths reported.

Those killed include an opposition youth leader, a pro-government candidate and a soldier.

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The government wants a new constituent assembly with powers to rewrite the constitution and override congress.

The opposition says it is a power grab by President Nicolás Maduro and is boycotting the vote.

President Maduro says it is the only way to restore peace after months of protests and political stalemate between the government and the opposition controlled National Assembly.

Early results are expected within the coming hours.

As well as internal opposition, Venezuela faces mounting international criticism over the election and on Sunday the US said it was considering further sanctions.

As voting got under way on Sunday morning, anti-government protesters took to the streets despite a government ban and there were reports of clashes with police across the country.

At least three people were reportedly shot dead in the western state of Tachira – two teenagers and a soldier from the national guard.

Ricardo Campos, a youth secretary with the opposition Acción Democrática party, was shot dead during a protest in the north-eastern town of Cumana, prosecutors said.

Shortly before voting started, José Felix Pineda, a 39-year-old lawyer standing in the election, was also reportedly shot in his home in Bolivar state.

In the capital Caracas, an explosion near one demonstration injured several police officers and set a number of their motorcycles on fire.

Security forces used armoured vehicles to dispel protesters in the Caracas district of El Paraíso amid the sound of gunfire, local reports said.

Voting was extended by an hour until 19:00 (23:00 GMT), electoral officials said, to allow all votes to be cast.

The opposition urged further protests on Monday.

“We do not recognise this fraudulent process,” said opposition leader Henrique Capriles.


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