CARACAS – Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas on Thursday inside at least four malls to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters who tried without success to march to the Supreme Court (TSJ) in western Caracas.
The incident left dozens of people affected by the debilitating gas at the Sambil, Chacao, Lido and Paseo Las Mercedes malls located in the municipalities of Chacao and Miranda, both considered to be opposition bastions.
Several opposition MUD coalition leaders said that the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) and the Bolivarian National Guard, Venezuela’s militarized police force, used the tear gas on the people participating in the march and fleeing from the authorities.
“The PNB, with its inhumane and unconstitutional actions, has transformed the malls into a type of gas chamber. Savages,” wrote Caracas lawmaker Marialbert Barrios on Twitter as the caption for a video showing a dense curtain of smoke inside the Paseo Las Mercedes mall.
Meanwhile, the Chacao Mayor’s Office tweeted that medical and emergency authorities had “treated 17 children and 28 adults for tear gas inhalation in the Sambil” mall.
As Venezuelan online media outlets reported, the authorities fired tear gas canisters inside parking garages in eastern Caracas and also at the facades of several businesses, breaking windows and causing material damage.
On the social networks, witnesses shared dozens of photos and videos of the incidents.
The opposition protesters on Thursday mobilized and set out from some 40 spots in the capital, but security forces – using tear gas and firing rubber bullets – prevented them from reaching their destination.
MUD once again complained that the security forces “unjustifiably repressed” the anti-government demonstrators.
For the past three months, Venezuela has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests, some of which have turned violent leaving at least 91 people dead and some 1,500 injured, according to figures compiled by the Attorney General’s Office.