Venezuela: Two more killed in Venezuela protests

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro extended a nationwide state of economic emergency for 60 additional days Saturday in order to guarantee the population access to basic services.

The latest deaths in the current unrest - which erupted on April 1 when the opposition took to the streets in anger at what they saw as moves to strengthen President Nicolas Maduro's hold on power - make the situation nearly as deadly as in 2014 when 43 people were killed in anti-government protests. "And I'll be back every day there's a protest, for as long as is necessary", said Anelin Rojas, a 30-year-old human resources worker, sitting cross-legged with a novel and earphones in the middle of Caracas' main highway.

Diego Hernandez, 33, and Luis Alviarez, 18, were killed in separate demonstrations, officials said.

Elsewhere in Tachira, demonstrators threw rocks and set an armored truck on fire.

Still, few statistics stand out more than the number of people killed or injured in the protests since they began in earnest at the end of March: more than three dozen killed and more than 750 injured, according to the AP.

In the central state of Carabobo, three officers were shot, including one left in critical condition after being struck in the head, authorities said. In the state of Lara west of Caracas, investigators were dispatched after three people were run over by a vehicle at a protest.

The unrest is taking a mounting toll as Venezuela's opposition vows to step up near-daily demonstrations and Maduro shows no intention of conceding to opponents' demands. Protesters are demanding elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign aid to offset an economic crisis, and autonomy for the opposition-controlled legislature.

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"There's a real situation of crisis in the country, and the opposition says they will not give up until elections are called", Al Jazeera's John Holman, reporting from Cucuta, in Venezuela's border with Colombia, said.

The protests come as the nephew of fashion designer Carolina Herrera was taken hostage and killed along with his business partner on Thursday night. Maduro and top administration leaders contend the OAS is meddling in Venezuela's domestic affairs, infringing on its sovereignty and trying to remove the government from power.

On Monday, demonstrators assembled a giant rosary with balloons hanging from a Caracas highway overpass.

Venezuela had announced in late April that it would be leaving the OAS.

Opposition leaders believe Maduro and some of his supporters met this week with Padrino Lopez to rally support for his plan to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution.

"We are against this fraudulent process", Capriles said on his radio broadcast. In four of those cases, state or national police officers have been charged.

The opposition blames the bloodshed on state security forces using excessive force and on groups of armed, pro-government civilians known as "colectivos".

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