Nicolas Maduro Venezuela president rallies backers after deadly unrest

The counter-rally came as violence appeared to intensify in recent days with the opposition marching daily to demand early elections.

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Venezuela's anti-government protests have turned increasingly violent, with clashes pushing the death toll to new heights play

Venezuela's anti-government protests have turned increasingly violent, with clashes pushing the death toll to new heights

(AFP)
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Venezuela's government rallied its supporters on Tuesday in defiance of opposition protests after the death toll from weeks of clashes reached 52.

Backers of socialist President Nicolas Maduro gathered in the center of the capital Caracas, waving red, yellow and blue national flags.

The counter-rally came as violence appeared to intensify in recent days with the opposition marching daily to demand early elections.

"I call on all the people of Venezuela to take to the streets en masse with the tricolor flag of peace," President Nicolas Maduro said on television ahead of Tuesday's rally.

The government and opposition accuse each other of sending armed groups to sow violence during demonstrations.

Maduro has branded the opposition "terrorists" and is resisting their calls for a vote on removing him from power.

The opposition blames him for an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine.

A total of 52 people have been killed during demonstrations, many of them shot, public prosecutors said on Monday. Looting has broken out in various cities.

A man was set alight on Sunday at a demo by an angry crowd who accused him of thieving. Maduro claimed he was targeted for being a government supporter.

Fresh riots broke out on Tuesday evening in the capital and the western town of Barinas.

"Venezuelans awake today in mourning for those murdered in our beloved Barinas. Such viciousness against our people!" opposition leader Henrique Capriles wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Opposition lawmakers called a session for Tuesday to discuss the violence.

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