Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Venezuelan Police Use Force To Disperse Demonstrators

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan police fired tear gas and plastic bullets into a crowd of thousands protesting a decision by President Hugo Chavez that forced a television station critical of his leftist government off the air.

Police fired at the crowd of up to 5,000 protesters from a raised highway, and protesters fled amid clouds of tear gas. They later regrouped in Caracas' Plaza Brion chanting "Freedom!" Some tossed rocks and bottles at police, prompting authorities to scatter demonstrators by firing more gas.

It was the largest of several protests that broke out across Caracas hours after Radio Caracas Television ceased broadcasting at midnight Sunday and was replaced with a new, state-funded channel. Chavez had refused to renew RCTV's broadcast license, accusing it of "subversive" activities and of backing a 2002 coup against him.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Pedro Carreno told state-run television that four students were wounded by gunfire during a pro-RCTV protest staged near a university in the city of Valencia, 150 kilometers west of Caracas. It was not immediately clear who the assailants were and whether they were arrested.

At least three protesters and one police officer were injured in the Caracas skirmishes. Some protesters were seen in television footage hurling spent tear gas canisters back at police.

Office workers poured out of buildings to join student protesters, while organizers called for the demonstration to remain peaceful.

RCTV talk show host Miguel Angel Rodriguez led the crowd in chants of, "They will not silence us!"

Separately, Venezuelan Information Minister Willian Lara accused U.S. network CNN of coverage biased against Chavez.