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Venezuelan judge shot dead at barricade as unrest persists

by Reuters
Thursday, 1 June 2017 15:29 GMT

CARACAS, June 1 (Reuters) - Gunmen shot dead a Venezuelan judge at a street barricade in the latest fatality from two months of anti-government unrest that have killed at least 61 people, authorities said on Thursday.

Nelson Moncada, 37, was killed and stripped of his belongings as he tried to get away from the roadblock on Wednesday night in Caracas' El Paraiso district, the scene of regular clashes, the state prosecutor's office said.

There was violence around the capital on Wednesday after security forces forcibly broke up tens of thousands of opposition supporters marching on government offices downtown, and skirmishes continued into the night.

Protesters frequently block roads with rubbish and burning tyres, sometimes asking passers-by for contributions to a self-styled "Resistance" movement against President Nicolas Maduro.

It was unclear why Moncada had been targeted.

Some local news sites said it appeared to be a robbery while others noted he had presided at the controversial case of Bassil Da Costa, a protester shot at the start of another wave of anti-Maduro demonstrations in 2014.

Victims from the violence then and this year have included supporters of both sides, bystanders and members of the security forces. El Paraiso has seen nightly clashes between demonstrators, pro-government gangs and National Guard soldiers.

Venezuela's opposition is demanding new elections to replace the unpopular socialist president whom foes accuse of wrecking the OPEC nation's economy and becoming a dictator.

Maduro, 54 calls them coup-mongers seeking his violent overthrow with U.S. support akin to the short-lived toppling of his predecessor Hugo Chavez in 2002.

Since the latest round of protests began in early April, hundreds of people have been also injured, and 3,000 arrested, of whom nearly half remain behind bars, according to local human rights campaigners. (Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne and Andreina Aponte; Editing by David Gregorio)

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