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Boy among four killed in Venezuela riots: officials

© AFP/File | Riot police and opposition activists clash in Caracas on April 10, 2017 after Venezuela's political crisis intensified following the Supreme Court's ruling that curbed the powers of the opposition-controlled legislature

CARACAS (AFP) - 

A teenage boy was shot dead in renewed protests against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, one of four people killed in a week of unrest, officials said Wednesday.

State prosecutors said a 13-year-old boy was one of two new victims in recent clashes.

Opposition lawmaker Alfonso Marquina identified the teenage victim as Brayan Principal and said he was killed during unrest in the western city of Barquisimeto on Tuesday night.

The boy "was shot in the abdomen last night," Marquina said.

He blamed the death on armed supporters of the government.

A 36-year-old man was also killed in Barquisimeto in a separate incident, the state prosecution service said.

Two 19-year-old students were killed during earlier unrest, one on April 6 and one on April 11, according to authorities.

- Food crisis -

Maduro is fighting efforts to oust him as Venezuela, once a booming oil exporter, struggles with shortages of food and medicine and a wave of violent crime.

Dozens of people have been injured and more than 100 arrested since last Thursday, according to authorities.

Scuffles broke out between government supporters and opponents during a Holy Week procession at the Santa Teresa church in central Caracas on Wednesday.

The last major clashes in Caracas erupted on Monday during protests formally called by the opposition.

The opposition has not organized any major protests since then, but sporadic rallies and blockades have been reported across the country, including those in Barquisimeto.

Riot police in Caracas and other cities have fired tear gas and water cannon at stone-throwing demonstrators, whose leaders have vowed to keep up pressure on Maduro.

No major protests were announced for Wednesday, but opposition leaders called for huge rallies on April 19.

That will be the next big showdown in an increasingly tense crisis that has raised international concerns for stability in Venezuela.

- International concern -

The opposition is demanding the authorities set a date for postponed regional elections.

It is also furious over moves to limit the powers of the legislature and ban senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles from politics.

Those moves have also raised international condemnation including from the United States and the European Union.

The strongest criticism has come from the secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro.

He has echoed the opposition's claim that Maduro has installed a dictatorship.

On Tuesday, Venezuelan television interrupted the live broadcast of a military parade when Maduro, who was taking part, was hit by objects thrown from a crowd.

Reports on social media said the projectiles included eggs and stones.

He has resisted opposition efforts to hold a referendum on removing him, vowing to continue the "socialist revolution" launched by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Maduro says the economic crisis is the result of what he calls a US-backed capitalist conspiracy.

© 2017 AFP