Venezuelan intelligence arrests opposition mayor

2014-03-20 17:14
Students shout slogans against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. (File, AP)

Students shout slogans against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. (File, AP)

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Caracas - Venezuela's intelligence service arrested and charged on Wednesday the opposition mayor of restive San Cristobal, where anti-government protests broke out more than a month ago.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said Mayor Daniel Ceballos has been detained on charges of fuelling "civilian uprising" and "supporting" violence in his city in the western state of Tachira.

Prosecutors "issued an arrest warrant... for [fomenting] civilian uprising," which the Bolivarian Intelligence Service carried out, Rodriguez said on state television VTV.

"This is an act of justice... He has fostered and aided all the irrational violence first unleashed in the city of San Cristobal."

Ceballos is the second leader of the opposition group Popular Will detained over the deadly protests, the biggest challenge yet to President Nicolas Maduro's elected socialist government.

The group's leader Leopoldo Lopez has been detained for over a month in a military facility near Caracas.

Ceballos was arrested in Caracas, however, Popular Will said on Twitter.

Elected in December, Ceballos says university students in his city who led protests against the government have been unjustly targeted, with at least one killed.

Maduro's government has been the target of daily protests in cities around the country since 4 February, fuelled by public anger over violent crime, inflation, shortages and further stoked by often heavy-handed police tactics.

At least 29 people have been killed in the protests.

Maduro contends the protests are part of a "fascist" right-wing, US-backed plot to destabilise his year-old government.
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