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At least two dead after Venezuelan soldiers fire on villages near border

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

At least two people were killed after Venezuelan Soldiers fired at a group of people living near the border with Brazil | Photo grabbed from a Reuters video footage

(REUTERS) — Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on indigenous people near the border with Brazil on Friday (February 22), killing two, witnesses said, as President Nicolas Maduro sought to block U.S.-backed efforts to bring aid into his economically devastated nation.

Friday’s violence broke out in the village of Kumarakapay in southern Venezuela after an indigenous community stopped a military convoy heading toward the border with Brazil that they believed was attempting to block aid from entering, according to community leaders Richard Fernandez and Ricardo Delgado.

Soldiers later entered the village and opened fire, killing a couple and injuring several others, they said.

Seven of the 15 injured earlier on Friday were rushed by ambulance across the border and were being treated at the Roraima General Hospital in the Brazilian frontier city of Boa Vista, a spokesman for the state governor’s office said.

“It was a question of life or death. I was there and I immediately ran. My sister-in-law and sister were sitting there on some concrete seats. They were sitting there, so when they started shooting at those who were there, that’s when my sister got up to defend the young people who were there, telling the soldiers not to do it and asking why they were doing it. Who is in charge? Why did they do it?” said Guillermo Rodriguez, whose sister was among the casualties, as he recollected the events that led to the shooting.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

Diosdado Cabello, one of the most prominent figures in Maduro’s Socialist Party, accused the civilians involved in the clash of being “violent groups” directed by the opposition.