CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – A National Guardsman and a civilian were killed Thursday in a clash between residents of a Caracas neighborhood and armed men who tried to remove a barricade, Venezuelan officials said.
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello identified the guardsman as 25-year-old Acner Isaac Lopez Lyon, and said that motorcycle taxi driver Jose Gregorio Amaris was also killed while removing debris from the road.
Both were apparently shot Thursday morning after area residents began banging pots and throwing bottles at people taking down a street barricade. The opposition accuses the government of using armed civilian groups on motorcycles to break up demonstrations.
Just before the deaths were announced, the country’s chief prosecutor said the death toll from the protests stood at 19 after weeks of student-led protests.
Barricades of garbage, furniture and burning tires have become a daily occurrence, snarling traffic in cities.
In a televised speech at a new government apartment building attended by actor Danny Glover, President Nicolas Maduro said the motorcyclist was removing debris so he could go about his job. After he was shot, the National Guard arrived to secure the area and Lopez Lyon was killed.
Maduro said a second motorcyclist was also seriously injured.
“Where are the opposition politicians to condemn these events, to search for peace like we’re searching?” Maduro asked. He called those building the barricades “vandals who hate the people.”
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