The tense political battle between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his opponent, Henrique Capriles, turned deadly Saturday when supporters of both candidates clashed outside of Caracas.
Two Henrique Capriles supporters were shot to death Saturday after their caravan was attacked by political rivals. According to MSN Latino, alleged supporters of Chavez blocked a road Saturday night to prevent a convoy of Capriles supporters from entering Barinas, the Venezuelan president's home state. The victims were identified as Omar Ramon Fernandez, 63 years-old, and 32 year-old Valero Antonio Avila.
Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami confirmed the attack and said the violence erupted when loyalists for both candidates faced off on a road between Barinas and Barinitas, about 280 miles southwest of the capital Caracas. During a telephone interview broadcast by state-run Venezolana de Television, Aissami did not identify the political affiliation of those killed, but opposition officials are claiming both were participants in a motorcade of Capriles supporters. Aissami announced via twitter that a suspect has been arrested, but he did not identify the political affiliation or name of the suspect.
This is not the first violent confrontation between the rival political supporters. ABC reports that at least 14 people were injured on Sept. 12 when Chavez backers blocked a road in an effort to prevent Capriles from reaching a campaign event in the central city of Puerto Cabello.
In July, supporters of Chavez began throwing rocks at opposition supporters who were accompanying Capriles in a march through a poor neighborhood in Caracas. During a Capriles visit in March to a Caracas district that has been traditionally pro-Chavez, shots were fired and one Capriles supporter was wounded.
Capriles, who is a former state governor, is considered by many to be the most serious rival Chavez has faced since he was first elected president in 1998.
According to Venezuelan television station RCTV, an announcement was made during a pro Capriles march in Caracas that the death toll in the attack has now risen to three.