In Brief

At least three dead in Venezuela anti-government protests

Dozens more injured in 'mother of all protests' against President Nicolas Maduro

At least three people have been shot dead and dozens more injured during what organisers called the "mother of all protests" against the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Carlos Moreno, 18, was fatally wounded when armed government supporters known as "colectivos" opened fire on a nearby opposition gathering in Caracas, striking the student in the head.

Another student, Paola Ramirez, was shot dead by men chasing her and her boyfriend as they left a protest in San Cristobal, near the border with Colombia.

"I heard shots and when I arrived she was on the ground. I tried to protect her as much as I could," Ramirez's boyfriend said.

The third fatality was a national guardsman killed by a sniper during protests in Miranda state, according to human rights ombudsman Tarek Saab.

Last month, Venezuela's Supreme Court dissolved the opposition-controlled National Assembly and took over its powers, bringing the country a step further to dictatorship.

Thousands of protesters yesterday took to the streets, led by opposition figurehead and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, calling for "new presidential elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians", the BBC reports.

"Fears of bloodshed had been stoked after President Nicolas Maduro put troops on the streets, supplied guns to sympathetic civil militias and called for a simultaneous rally of his supporters against what he said was a United States-backed coup," says The Guardian.

According to the New York Times, Maduro "defied international calls, including a plea from the American State Department, to allow peaceful assemblies".

Capriles, who has been banned by the government from holding political office for 15 years, has vowed to continue the protests, calling for further marches on Thursday.

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