The clashes began after authorities closed subway stations, set up checkpoints and cordoned off a square where opponents had planned their latest protest against autocratic government and a crippling economic crisis.
In cat-and-mouse skirmishes on backstreets and highways around the capital, youths built barricades, burned trash and hurled rocks and bottles at soldiers and police. Various opposition leaders organized roadblocks.
Police used pepper spray on National Assembly head Julio Borges, two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles and rights activist Lilian Tintori, as they led protesters onto highways and jostled at barricades, witnesses said.
Opposition activists said armed pro-government gangs joined the fray and opened fire. “About 50-100 guys arrived on bike and started to shoot in the air,” protester Bernardo Sanchez told local media, saying a bullet had lodged in his thigh. …