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Venezuelan soldiers kill two in clash over aid on Brazilian border

Marcelo Garcia, AFP | Handout picture released by the Venezuelan Presidency showing Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) making the V-sign during a military rally on January 30, 2019.

Venezuelan soldiers shot and killed two people and wounded 15 others when they tried to prevent the troops from blocking an entry route for humanitarian aid on the Brazilian border, a human rights groups said on Friday.

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“An indigenous woman and her husband were killed and at least 15 other members of the Pemon indigenous community were injured,” said the civil humanities association Kape Kape.

The clash occurred close to the border with Brazil, which President Nicolas Maduro ordered closed on Thursday.

After this first bloodshed linked to efforts to bring aid into the country against the orders of embattled Maduro, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly appealed for violence to be avoided in Venezuela, a U.N. spokesman said.

“Any loss of life is regrettable,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “Looking ahead for tomorrow the secretary-general strongly appeals for violence to be avoided.”

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring in foreign aid from neighboring countries on Saturday and called on security forces to disobey Maduro and let supplies into the country suffering food and medicine shortages.

Pathways to find food

Venezuela’s Pemon indigenous community use unofficial border pathways to cross into Brazil to buy food.

“We crossed the border from Venezuela to Brazil via other paths because the national guards closed the border,” said Genesis Valencia, a 26-year-old Pemon woman.

“That’s why we had to come through other paths. We came to buy things here in Brazil because there’s nothing in Venezuela...no food, no medicine...people, kids, are dying of hunger.”

Maduro, who has blocked the delivery of stockpiled humanitarian aid in a tense standoff with his rival Juan Guaido recognized as interim leader by more than 50 countries on Thursday ordered the border with Brazil “completely and absolutely” closed until further notice.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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