Two killed in worsening Venezuela unrest

Gunmen have killed two more people during political unrest in Venezuela, bringing the total number of deaths in this month’s unrest to 23.

Anti-government protests entered a fourth week on Monday with mass sit-ins to press for early elections. Rival protests were also held.

A 42-year-old man who worked for local government in the Andean state of Merida died from a gunshot in the neck at a rally in favour of President Nicolas Maduro’s government, the state ombudsman and prosecutor’s office said.

Another 54-year-old man was shot dead in the chest during a protest in the western agricultural state of Barinas, the state prosecutor’s office added without specifying the circumstances.

An opposition party, Justice First, said the protest the man was in was against Maduro when it was targeted by pro-government “paramilitaries”.

The latest deaths come amid a month of protests that have sparked politically-motivated shootings and clashes between security forces armed with rubber bullets and tear gas and protesters wielding rocks and Molotov cocktails.

According to a Reuters count, 11 of those killed have died during night-time looting.

The opposition’s main demands are for early elections, the release of jailed activists and autonomy for the opposition-led Congress.

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