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Three killed in Venezuela as opposition strike begins

RADIO DANAN: At least three people were killed in renewed clashes between police and protesters in Venezuela, where a 48-hour strike called for by the opposition is taking place.

The Venezuela prosecutor’s office said a 23-year-old man died in the mountainous state of Merida. They also said a 16-year-old boy died in the Caracas neighbourhood of Petare. The two deaths were in addition to the previously announced death of a 30-year-old man, also in Merida state. 

The latest casualties bring to 106 the number of people killed in four months of violent protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, the AFP news agency said.

Maduro’s opponents at home and abroad are attempting to pressure him into halting his plans to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution with an election for a Constituent Assembly on July 30.

The opposition-led two-day strike is the latest effort to bring Venezuela to a standstill.

Highways were mostly empty, and businesses shuttered across the country as millions of people observed the protest.

Activists threw up roadblocks in many neighbourhoods to keep others from getting to work, but the protest soon turned violent.

The strike came as the United States announced sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials.

The US Treasury Department issued the punishing measures, saying the “flawed” election process would undermine democracy.

A defiant Maduro hit back late on Wednesday, holding a campaign style rally where he presented some of those hit by US sanctions with replicas of a sword belonging to Latin American independence hero Simon Bolivar.