World

Protests, looting, gov't offices burned in Venezuela

A total of 68 stores were looted and several government offices were burned following anti-government protests late Monday and Tuesday in the city of Maracay, west of Venezuela's capital of Caracas.

Large protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro have been regularly held in Caracas over the last three months, but significant protests have also occurred in provincial cities.

The pro-Maduro governor of Aragua state, of which Maracay is the capital, said the looting hit supermarkets, drug stores and small bakeries and liquor stores.

Gov. Caryl Bertho said a tax office, a government telephone office and ruling party headquarters were burned late Monday.

Some 216 people were arrested.

Bertho blamed protesters for the looting, but opposition activists say gangs of men on motorcycles looted without interference from authorities. Such groups are often government supporters.

Seventy-five people have been killed nationwide during almost 90 days of protests seeking Maduro's removal. Federal prosecutors confirmed that the leader of an opposition party, Yofre Rodriguez, 18, had suffered a bullet wound to the head in another city in Aragua state.

And in protests in Caracas Monday night, three members of the National Guard suffered bullet wounds during confrontations with protesters.

The current wave of unrest was triggered in late March when the Supreme Court's constitutional chamber issued a sentence dissolving the National Assembly, a decision it later reversed amid a torrent of international criticism. More recently, the chamber threw out challenges to Maduro's much debated bid to rewrite the nation's constitution.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets demanding new elections as the nation battles triple-digit inflation, crippling food and medical shortages and rising crime.