Teen, soldier killed after protests in Venezuela

By Eric DuVall  |  June 9, 2017 at 11:07 AM
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June 9 (UPI) -- A teenager and a national guardsman were killed this week after another round of violent protests in the Venezuelan capital Caracas.

Anti-government protesters blamed soldiers from the government of President Nicolas Maduro for the death of Neomar Lander, 17, who had joined the march against Maduro's government. Protesters said Lander died when a government soldier fired a tear gas canister directly into Lander's chest.

Video immediately after the teen was injured showed rescue workers attempting to revive Landers to no avail.

As has frequently been the case in nearly 70 protest-related deaths, the official government conclusion blamed the opposition. Venezuelan rights ombudsman William Tarek Saab, a member of Maduro's government, said the teen died when a homemade explosive detonated in his hand. He said autopsy results showed the teen did not die due to being struck by a tear gas canister.

The teen's death sparked candlelight vigils and protest marches. Members of his family said Landers was a peaceful protester and denied he had resorted to building bombs to hurl at police.

Later Thursday, the body of a national guardsman identified as William Jose Mendoza was found in the street in a residential neighborhood. The government has not released any details about what may have caused the man's death.

Protests have raged against Maduro's government in Venezuela amid political unrest, triple-digit inflation, widespread food shortages and high unemployment. The official government tally has put the number of people killed during the protests at 67 since April 1.

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