CARACAS, Venezuela, May 8 (UPI) -- Four protest camps in eastern Caracas were broken up by Venezuelan security forces after the government claimed the camps were being used to launch "violent attacks."
Minister of Interior Miguel Rodriguez alleged that protesters would "hide in the camps saying they were taking part in a peaceful protest" while they were really using them to plot "violent attacks."
Rodriguez said that National Guard members involved in the protest camp clearing found "drugs, weapons, explosives, and mortars" inside tents.
Police detained 243 protesters, with charges against them pending.
Anti-government demonstrations began in Venezuela in February, demanding an end to goods shortages, inflation and high crime. President Nicolas Maduro's government has blamed foreign-backed "fascists" for the unrest while the opposition has claimed the security forces were to blame for the violence. Protest-related incidents have resulted in 41 deaths.