Venezuelan President Calls for Stepped-Up Security

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that six people had been arrested after the National Guard searched the central city of Valencia for those responsible for the previous day’s violence that left three dead.

Multiple outbreaks of shooting in Valencia on Wednesday killed a university student, a man painting his house and a National Guard captain.

“We have proceeded to search the places (in Valencia) where these bandits were hidden and we have six prisoners,” Maduro said in a telephone call carried by state television. He did not offer any details about those in custody, but said the searches turned up “weapons, C-4 (plastic explosives), bombs.”

Maduro decided during a meeting with his security Cabinet to step up security operations in areas where violence has erupted, Communications Minister Delcy Rodriguez said.

Student-led protests have occurred daily in various cities the past month, joined by large numbers of Venezuelans upset with inflation that reached 56 percent last year, the scarcity of some basic items such as flour and cooking oil, and one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

The government says the unrest has left at least 25 dead, while Venezuelan state prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz said Thursday that 28 have died.