Death toll in Venezuela's political protests rises to 26

The number of death tolls and injuries continues to rise amid the political protests in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro's social government.

The unrest is Venezuela's worst since 2014 when 43 people died in months of mayhem sparked by protests against Maduro, the 54-year-old successor to late leftist leader Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan Ombudsman Tarek Saab‏ on Monday said pro-government protester Jesus Sulbaran was shot in the neck in the state of Mérida as he was "demonstrating peacefully".

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The opposition's main demands center around elections and the Supreme Court's decision to take over the opposition-dominated National Assembly, but also fueled by the failing economy in the oil-rich nation of 30 million people.

Twenty-six people have died so far this month in violence around the protests, including four minors, according to Attorney General Luisa Ortega.

Opposition leaders accuse Maduro of seizing dictatorial powers and unleashing repression on peaceful protesters, but the opposition's ranks also include groups of youths who hunt for trouble, hurling Molotov cocktails or burning property.

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Protests enter fourth week, with opposition calling for early elections.

On Sunday, a 21st death was linked to the unrest that began nearly a month ago over the Supreme Court's decision to gut the opposition-controlled congress of its powers. "If we manage to keep up this pressure we will achieve change", said senior opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara, rallying support for Wednesday's protests. It came a short while after envoys to the OAS approved a resolution convening a special meeting of regional foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela's crisis.

A few hours after the OAS announcement, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told state TV that she has been instructed by Maduro to initiate Venezuela's withdrawal from the regional group if a foreign ministers meeting is called without his government's backing.

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  • Ryan Wade