Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says a police manhunt is underway for opposition leader Leopold Lopez.

Maduro addressed Lopez at a rally in Caracas, saying, "Turn yourself in coward." Maduro also denounced what he said is a "fascist" plot to oust him from power.

Maduro didn't mention Lopez by name, referring to him only by a frequently-used disparaging nickname.

The president said security forces acting on a February 12 arrest order are now looking for the leader of Wednesday's anti-government protests, which resulted in deadly clashes with police and government supporters. Lopez hasn't been seen since a Wednesday night press conference.

El Universal newspaper published Thursday a leaked copy of what it said was an arrest order for Lopez on charges ranging from vandalism to terrorism. Until now no government official had confirmed Lopez's arrest was being sought.