Venezuela protesters kill 3
At least three people have been killed, including two Venezuelan students and a National Guard sergeant on Wednesday when violent clashes marred.
what opposition leaders in Venezuela had billed as a massive march on a national holiday commemorating the start of the troubled country's independence struggle against Spain.
Hours after the start of competing marches by the opposition as well as supporters of embattled President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's public ministry said it had launched an investigation into the shooting of a 17-year-old man who was struck in the head an hour into the march in Caracas.
Crowds swelled to hundreds of thousands, including Maduro supporters who held a counter-demonstration in the capital at the urging of the president, and clashes were reported across the country during the most sustained protests since 2014.
The deaths mean eight people have now been killed during protests in Venezuela this month. The opposition blames the deaths on security forces and alleged paramilitary groups. Over 400 people were arrested during protests on Wednesday, rights group Penal Forum said.
The opposition called for another protest on Thursday, raising the specter of prolonged disruption in Venezuela.
"Same place, same time," said opposition leader Henrique Capriles on Wednesday night. "If we were millions today, tomorrow we'll be more."
Wednesday's dueling marches drew parallels to the clashes between pro and anti-government protesters in 2002 that triggered a brief coup against late President Hugo Chavez.
Carlos Moreno, 18, a student, was leaving his home to play soccer in Caracas when armed government supporters approached a nearby opposition gathering and fired shots, according to witnesses. He was shot in the head, they said, and three security officials said he later died in a clinic after undergoing surgery.
Later on Wednesday in the opposition hotbed of San Cristobal near the Colombia border, university student Paola Ramirez died after being shot by men pursuing her and her boyfriend, according to relatives and witnesses.
"We were on a motorbike and they were following us, shooting," her boyfriend told reporters. "I left her on a block where she was going to find her sister and I went to hide the bike. I heard shots and when I arrived she was on the ground. I tried to protect her as much as I could," he added, sobbing in front of her body.
The public prosecutor's office said it was investigating both cases.