Sirens blared in the Altamira neighborhood of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.
Anti-government protesters poured into the streets of this once bustling commercial and residential hub, their young faces obscured by tear-gas masks and bandanas. They hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at riot police who responded Wednesday to the almost daily demonstrations calling for embattled President Nicolas Maduro to step down.
Police in riot gear opened fire with what appeared to be tear gas. A Molotov cocktail sparked a fire atop an armored National Guard vehicle. It backed away from the crowd. Protesters surrounded two members of the security forces.
The armored vehicle, flames spitting from its roof, plowed into the crowd. A young man, his head covered in a white rag, fell in front of the truck. A video camera captured the horror as someone in the crowd yelled, “Son of a —–!”
Interior and justice minister Nestor Reverol told reporters this week that the “lamentable” incident was under investigation. Referring to the protesters as “terrorists,” Reverol said that moments before Yaminne was run over, demonstrators hurled a Molotov cocktail at the armored vehicle, opened the side door and “brutally assaulted” the driver. He showed a video of the assault to make his point.
At least 36 people have died and more than 700 have been injured in protests in the last month, the Venezuelan prosecutor’s office reported. Half the deaths occurred in the capital of a country mired in economic crisis and political instability. The victims included four teenagers, a National Guard member and a police officer.