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Death toll from Venezuela unrest rises to 39

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Anti-government protesters clash with police in Caracas, Venezuela.

Two more people have died during demonstrations in Venezuela, pushing the death toll from several weeks of protests to 39.

The men died on Saturday in separate incidents, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said on VTV public television.

A 44-year-old man died in the western city of San Cristobal after being struck by a high-tension cable as protesters carried a billboard to form a barricade, Rodriguez stated.

Another 33-year-old man was killed in the northwestern city of Maracaibo due to an unexpected explosion caused by a homemade mortar he was handling.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has agreed to hold talks with the opposition in the presence of an outside facilitator after weeks of unrest in the country.

The announcement was made on Thursday after two days of talks between foreign ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), government officials, human rights groups and student protesters.

Venezuela has been the scene of violent demonstrations between supporters and opponents of the government since February 4.

The opposition has criticized the government for high crime rates and economic hardships, claiming that the policies of the administration of Maduro have led to a shortage of essential goods and a high inflation rate.

This is while the Venezuelan government says the United States is fanning the flames of the unrest in an effort to topple Maduro.

The Venezuelan leader ordered the expulsion of three US consular officials last month, accusing them of meeting with student protest leaders under the guise of offering them visas, to destabilize the country.

In response, Washington declared three Venezuelan consular officials personae non gratae and asked them to leave the US.


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