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New mass protests in Venezuela after Guaido's call


Caracas:  Venezuelan opposition supporters have been holding mass protests, a day after violent clashes with government forces.

"We will keep going with more strength than ever," opposition leader Juan Guaido tweeted on Wednesday. Pro-government rallies are also taking place, the BBC reported.

The rival demonstrations come after President Nicolas Maduro said he had stopped an "attempted coup" on Tuesday.

Guaido says he is backed by members of the armed forces but Maduro insists he still has their support.

In a fiery television address on Tuesday, Maduro accused protesters of "serious crimes" which he said would "not go unpunished", and said the US was plotting against him.

Guaido declared himself Venezuela's interim leader in January and has been recognised by more than 50 countries, including the US, the UK and most in Latin America.

But Maduro - backed by Russia, China and the top of the country's military - has refused to cede leadership to his rival.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said military action was "possible" if necessary but that the US would prefer a peaceful transition of power. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the US against further "aggressive" steps.

The UN meanwhile called on both sides to exercise "maximum restraint".

Addressing his supporters in Caracas, Guaido called the protests an "irreversible process" and vowed to continue demonstrations every day "to achieve freedom".

"We are on the right track, there is no turning back," he said.

He also said there would be a series of staggered strikes starting on Thursday and culminating in a general strike.

Some media reports said gunfire in Altamira, a neighbourhood in east Caracas where the opposition regularly gathers.

There were also clashes on a highway close to an airbase in the east of the capital, with protesters driving a van through the perimeter fence.

National Guard on motorbikes fired tear gas at the demonstrators.

Some demonstrators threw stones, while others have been seen making Molotov cocktails.

Demonstrations have taken place in all 23 states of Venezuela as well as in Caracas, NGOs and the local media say.

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News Summary - New mass protests in Venezuela after Guaido's call
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