3 Dead As Gunfire Punctuates Venezuela Protests

Three died as gunfire broke out, turning protests in Venezuela violent Wednesday.
Posted at 1:14 PM, Feb 13, 2014

Protests in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas turned violent Wednesday, as gunfire left three students dead and ratcheted up tensions between demonstrators and the government.

Earlier in the day some 10,000 demonstrators marched peacefully on the office of the federal prosecutor, demanding the release of 13 prisoners detained in earlier protests. (Via Sky News)

Following the march, The Wall Street Journal reports a smaller group of protesters clashed with police forces. Then a group of gunmen on motorcycles opened fire into the crowd.

According to the BBC, two students were killed. Local officials say one was an anti-government protester, and the other was taking part in a simultaneous pro-government rally.

Officials later confirmed a third death on Twitter. It's not clear what affiliations the gunmen had.

The deaths mark the worst unrest since Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took office last year.

Maduro blamed the deaths on "neo-fascist upsurge" within the populace and warned the protests could herald an attempted coup. (Via CNN)

"The protesters are angry with President Nicolas Maduro's failure to control inflation, crime and a lack of opportunities for the country's young. The marches took place on Venezuela's National Youth Day." (Via Euronews)

Venezuela had the fourth-worst murder rate in the world last time the U.N. counted the numbers. (Via United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)

And its inflation rate is more than 55 percent. (Via The Financial Times)

According to the BBC, opposition forces have called for Maduro's resignation. Maduro has said he will not back down in the face of violence.