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Gunshots, Molotovs: Skirmishes in Caracas as Venezuela upheaval escalates (VIDEOS)

Video footage of protests in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas show sporadic violence, as the city became the stage for a brutal fight for power in the impoverished country.

The standoff between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition-dominated National Assembly escalated this week after a failed mutiny by a National Guard unit.

Juan Guaido, the head of the legislature, declared himself the acting president on Wednesday in front of a large crowd of supporters. He was instantly was recognized by the US and its allies across Latin America. On the same day, numerous Maduro supporters also took to the streets.

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As the fight for the loyalty of Venezuelans unfolded, Caracas experienced a night of violence. With the country in chaos, reports are difficult to confirm. However, Local TV said there were shootings and explosions in at least one eastern part of the city, Petare. Emerging footage shows that the unrest continued during the night in the capital.

Multiple gunshots can be heard in a video circulating online.

A video purportedly shot in a different part of Caracas shows a white truck being set on fire.

The situation in Venezuela escalated after years of economic hardship, which the opposition blames on the government of Maduro. He was sworn in for his second term earlier this month. The hand-picked successor to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez says the country is in such poor shape mainly because the US is stifling it with economic sanctions, and big business leaders eager to overthrow his socialist government are engaged in direct sabotage.

The move by the opposition was openly encouraged by Washington, which labeled Maduro a dictator who cannot represent the people of his country.

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