Venezuela opposition figures wounded as anti-government demonstrations intensify
Two leading Venezuelan opposition figures were wounded in anti-government protests Monday, as demonstrators vowed to intensify pressure on President Nicolas Maduro and against his plans to hold a constitutional assembly.
Henrique Capriles, a former opposition presidential candidate, said he and his team were beaten by National Guard troops as they left a rally that had been broken up by tear gas.
"They cornered us, they beat us... They robbed us all. They took my team's watches, radios, gas masks. When I asked them 'What's wrong with you?' their reaction was to give me a blow to the face. Did they want to kill us?" he told reporters.
Separately, lawmaker Carlos Paparoni was wounded when he was struck on the head by a tear gas canister.
Protesters tried to march downtown along a major highway in Caracas toward the government ombudsman's office. Police, who were blocking the road, responded by firing tear gas, water cannon and buckshot.
According to the opposition 257 people were wounded in Monday's protests, the first since a weekend announcement of stepped-up pressure on Maduro over his plan to rewrite the constitution, which they see as a bid to cling to power.
"If we allow the fraud that they want to call a constitutional assembly, Venezuela will be lost," said Freddy Guevara, a leading opposition figure at the National Assembly legislature.
Prosecutors say 60 people have been killed in clashes since the protests erupted on April 1.