University students block a road during an anti-government protest in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas on June 30, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

More than 60 students have been detained by Venezuelan security forces during the latest anti-government protests in the Latin American country, an opposition student leader says.
Daniel Ascanio, student leader from Simon Bolivar University, said Friday that police had apprehended 62 students during the latest wave of unrest.
About half of them, he said, had been detained a day earlier while trying to march to offices of the electoral authority in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
Insisting that they had been protesting “peacefully,” he said, “There is no reason for them to be detained.”
Police fired tear gas and shotguns to disperse students, who had gathered on Thursday to demand the release of their friends and classmates in the wake of weeks-long protests against President Nicolas Maduro.
“Yesterday, more than 30 university students, from the Simon Bolivar University, Metropolitan University, Catholic University Andres Bello and Central University of Venezuela were kidnapped by state security forces, were kidnapped by The National Bolivarian Police in a totally atypical process, in a completely arbitrary detention in which they were held gagged and tied up in a truck,” said Alfredo Garcia, a student protester.

An opposition protester stands next to a barricade of burning trash blocking a street in Caracas as a demonstration against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on June 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The oil-rich country has been the scene of intense anti-government protests for more than two months. Clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters have left over 75 people dead and 1,300 wounded.
The unrest was aggravated in early April after Venezuela’s Supreme Court decided to annul the powers of the opposition-controlled parliament. The move was regarded as a violation of the country’s constitution. The decision was later revoked, but the protests have only continued.
The opposition, which blames Maduro for the county’s severe hyperinflation and widespread shortages of basic supplies, has been calling for an early presidential election meant to oust the president.
The Caracas government says the protests are incited by the Unites Stated to remove Maduro from power and has accused the opposition of hiring armed gangs. The opposition, too, has claimed the government has recruited criminal gangs to intimidate protesters.

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