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Call for calm after shooting

By Agencies in Caracas | China Daily | Updated: 2015-02-26 07:27

 Call for calm after shooting

A young man gestures in front of police after 14-year-old student Kluibert Roa Nunez died during a protest in San Cristobal on Tuesday. Carlos Eduardo Ramirez / Reuters

President orders probe as residents vent anger; police officers jailed after killing of student

The Venezuelan government condemned the fatal shooting of a teenager during an anti-government protest and pledged on Tuesday to prosecute the police officer responsible for the incident.

High-school student Kluibert Roa Nunez, 14, was shot in the head earlier in the day in San Cristobal during violent clashes between protesters and security forces near the residence of the Tachira state governor.

"I condemn this murder and I have ordered an investigation. All responsible police officers are imprisoned already," President Nicolas Maduro said in his weekly address to the nation.

Maduro called for peace in the nation, saying that within right-wing political organizations there are groups that pay young students to carry out violent acts.

"If any police or security officer commits a crime, I will be the first one to order that person's immediate arrest. In Venezuela it's strictly prohibited to use weapons to disperse a protest," he said.

A photo and video of the student lying in a pool of blood, his backpack hanging over his shoulder, as a man frantically tries to stanch the bleeding and others scream and clutch their heads in horror rocketed around social media.

High tensions

Tachira's head of citizen security said Roa died in confusing circumstances during confrontations near the governor's home.

"These hooded protesters intercepted four police officers and snatched their motorbikes, and to get rid of the protesters, one of the officials shot at the ground," Colonel Ramon Cabezas told reporters.

"When the protesters scattered ... we saw the students lifting the body of this youngster from beneath a car. We don't know for now how he got there."

Interior Minister Carmen Melendez said the federal government will prosecute the officer, Javier Mora, 23, who said he shot the student with rubber bullets.

"We regret the incident. The full weight of the law will be applied against those responsible," said Melendez, adding that "there's no room for impunity".

In San Cristobal, residents vented their outrage on Tuesday night.

"How are you going to shoot point blank at a student who's just leaving school to go home?" asked Glenda Lugo. "We're tired of injustice."

Tensions have been high since the government arrested opposition Mayor Antonio Ledezma a few days ago for his alleged role in plotting a coup to overthrow Maduro.

Melendez called for calm in Tachira and across the country, saying he didn't want a repeat of the violence that rocked the nation for four months at the beginning of 2014.

Xinhua - AP - Reuters


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