At least four people have died following overnight clashes ahead of rival protests in Venezuela by supporters and opponents of President Nicolas Maduro, police and a non-governmental organisation said.
A 16-year-old was among the dead, having suffered “a firearm injury during a demonstration” in the capital Caracas, the Social Conflict Observatory said.
Police said the other three deaths occurred during looting in Bolivar City in the southeastern Bolivar State that borders Brazil. A statue of iconic socialist revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor, was torched by dozens of protesters in the town of San Felix, Bolivar State.
Photos and videos shared on social media showed the statue, which was vandalised last year, engulfed in flames.
Tensions have been running high in the country since Monday when a group of soldiers took over a command post in the north of the capital and rose up against Maduro, publishing a video calling on people to come out into the streets in support.
The mutineers were quickly overpowered by police and the armed forces, with 27 people arrested.
But the brazen move sparked at least 30 small protests around Caracas, according to the Social Conflict Observatory, with the police firing tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
The opposition-controlled parliament had announced yesterday’s protest earlier this month as the legislature’s president Juan Guaido aims to rally support behind his attempt to chase Maduro from power and set up a transitional government ahead of new elections.
The government responded by announcing its own pro-Maduro demonstration on what is a hugely significant date in Venezuela since it was on January 23, 1958 that the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez fell.
Angry citizens protested late on Tuesday in at least 60 working-class neighbourhoods around the country, burning trash and clashing with troops in an echo of violent street demonstrations two years ago, a local rights group said.
Any change in government will rest on a shift in allegiance within the armed forces. They have stood by Maduro through two waves of street protests and a steady dismantling of democratic institutions.
Guaido, 35, has called for the military to disavow Maduro and promised amnesty for those that help bring about a return to democracy.
He has said he would be willing to replace Maduro as interim president, with the support of the military, to call free elections.
Addressing members of the military on Monday, he said: “We’re not asking you to stage a coup d’etat, we’re not asking you to shoot. We’re asking you not to shoot at us.” 
Guaido would provide legal protection to soldiers and officials who defected if he became president, he told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday, although “there would have to be justice for those that have done bad things.”
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