|Demonstrators make a barricade of burning garbage during a protest against Venezuela's |
President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas February 12, 2014.
Three Anti-Communists Killed
Communist government sends army into Venezuelan
cities as unrest prompts coup warning
(The Telegraph) - Venezuelan troops fanned out across the capital, Caracas, and other major cities on Thursday after President Nicolás Maduro ordered a military clampdown against deadly unrest that he warned was part of a "fascist" coup plot.
Piles of burning rubbish sat smoking along Caracas' main avenue as troops moved to secure the city following an outbreak of street violence that left three dead on Wednesday. Armed soldiers surrounded government buildings and diverted traffic, while riot troops guarded entrances to the shuttered subway system as residents picked their way through broken glass.
Maduro ordered the arrest of a top opposition leader and a former military chief as he claimed "fascist" forces financed from the United States were plotting against his government. He claimed the civil unrest was part of a plan by "far right" opponents "to bring us to a dog fight, set our people at war, one against another".
|A demonstrator jumps on shield wall formed by riot police in Caracas (AP)|
On Wednesday, the visceral political and class hatreds that have riven Venezuelan society were on full display.
Three people were shot dead and dozens injured when long-brewing anger over the country's deepening economic and security woes erupted into violence during rival protests by government supporters and opponents.
Troops used tear gas to disperse protesters as government buildings were vandalised and cars torched. Some opposition protesters, many masking their faces, hurled stones and burned tyres in the streets.
Leopoldo López, the opposition leader now in hiding from an arrest warrant on charges of homicide and conspiracy, said the government had instigated the bloodshed in order to discredit his peaceful movement.
The opposition blames armed pro-government militant groups known as "colectivos" for attacking their marches. Several times during Wednesday's rally the cry went up: "The colectivos are coming!", sending some demonstrators running for safety. One of those killed was a well-known colectivo leader from "January 23", an impoverished hillside barrio in Caracas that is a key revolutionary stronghold.
|Students shout slogans during an opposition demo against the government of |
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas on February 12, 2014.
Violence: The pro-government vigilante group arrived on motorcycles and began firing on anti-Maduro student protesters clashing with security forces towards the end of a demonstration which had previously been made up of 10,000 people.
See more photos: Daily Mail.