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Coup claim as 7 die in Venezuela election protests

Isaac Urrutia / Reuters

Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles take part in a demonstration in Maracaibo on Tuesday to demand a recount of the votes in Sunday's election.

CARACAS, Venezuela – Seven people were killed in violent clashes at opposition protests over Venezuela's disputed presidential election, officials said on Tuesday.

President-elect Nicolas Maduro – the late Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor -- said on Tuesday that opposition leaders who called for protests were seeking a coup against his government.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has demanded a full recount of votes from Sunday's election after results showed a narrow victory for Maduro.

The election authority has ruled out a recount, raising fears of more violence in the South American nation, which has the world's largest oil reserves.

The deaths happened on Monday when hundreds of protesters took to the streets in various parts of the capital Caracas and other cities, blocking streets, burning tires and fighting with security forces in some cases. Officials also said 135 people were arrested in the post-election violence.

State media and officials said the fatalities included two people shot by opposition sympathizers while celebrating Maduro's victory in a middle-class area of Caracas.

One person died in an attack on a government-run clinic in a central state. Two, including a policeman, were killed in an Andean border state, officials said.

"We will defeat this violent fascism with democracy," said Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, describing incidents and showing video footage to a group of ambassadors. "Those who attempt to take with force what they could not acquire through elections are not democrats."

There was no immediate response from the opposition, and Capriles' camp reiterated demands for peaceful protests on Tuesday as thousands of his supporters marched to regional election offices around the country. The government held counter-demonstrations. 

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