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NGO says seven killed in Venezuelan protests, 96 arrested

One member of the National Guard and at least three underage persons are among the victims

MOSCOW, July 31. /TASS/. Eleven people were killed and nearly 100 were arrested in Venezuela during protests on the constitutional assembly election day, said Alfredo Romero, the head of the Penal Forum rights group.

"Eleven deaths have been confirmed which took place during protests today [on Sunday], while five deaths taking place on July 29 have also been confirmed," Romero wrote on Twitter. One member of the National Guard and at least three underage persons are among the victims.

In May, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made a decision to convene a constitutional assembly without a preceding referendum, which exacerbated the situation in the country swept by anti-government protests for over a month. Protests flared up after a decision by the Supreme Court to extend Maduro’s powers and limit those of the parliament. The death toll from the protests has exceeded 120 people, while thousands have been injured. Around 4,900 protesters were arrested, nearly 1,400 of them still remain in custody.

Maduro claims that the constitutional assembly will help "restore order" in the country and "put an end to impunity." During an event broadcast live by the Venezolana de Television TV channel, the president said that the assembly may "remove parliamentary immunity from those who deserve it." "This will end the act of sabotage that the National Assembly [parliament] has been carrying out," he added.

Maduro also said that he still "calls for a national dialogue but only with a good Venezuela, which wants peace."

The Venezuelan president pointed out that the constitutional assembly should "immediately reorganize the Prosecutor General’s Office" and "take control of it so that justice could prevail." Maduro accused the Prosecutor General’s Office of releasing those suspected of setting voting machines on fire.

According to Venezuela's National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena, more than 8,000,000 out of 19,400,000 registered voters cast ballots on Sunday. However, the opposition, which has the majority in the country’s parliament, boycotted the vote.