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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
Venezuela killings spark protests
Young people demonstrate in Caracas, Venezuela
Hundreds of students took part in the demonstrations
Protesters in Venezuela have taken to the streets in anger following the discovery of the bodies of three boys kidnapped on their way to school.

Police fired tear gas at demonstrators blocking a road as thousands of marchers brought Caracas traffic to a standstill, demanding justice.

After the protests, the capital's mayor said he was replacing the chief of police with an army brigadier general.

Correspondents say there is frustration over the perceived rise in crime.

Jason, Kevin and John Faddoul - aged 12, 13 and 17 respectively - were abducted while being driven to school in February. They held dual Canadian-Venezuelan nationality.

Their driver was also killed. The kidnappers remain unidentified.

Last week, a prominent Italian businessman was kidnapped and later murdered.

Photographer shot

In the Caracas neighbourhood where the brothers grew up, residents set up road blocks to express anger and sorrow over the killings.

The protesters carried banners and shouted slogans such as: "Justice for the Faddoul brothers."

Students also marched to the ministry of the interior.

Kevin, John and Jason Faddoul
(L-R) Kevin, John and Jason Faddoul were born in Venezuela

"Where is the justice, where is the answer for the people, how many people die here each week?" protester Cristina Alvarez told the Reuters news agency.

"At times, you don't trust your neighbour," university student Alejandro Linares told the Associated Press news agency.

A news photographer covering the demonstrations, Jorge Aguirre, was shot dead by an unknown gunman while covering one of the protests.

The Faddoul boys' kidnappers had demanded the parents pay a ransom of $4.5m. The family's lawyer said it had been too much to pay.

A farmer found the boys' bodies in scrubland outside the city, with gunshot wounds to the neck and head.

Police investigations are so far focusing on eyewitness accounts that the youngsters and their chauffeur were seized at a fake checkpoint manned by men in police uniforms.

However, Venezuela's attorney-general says so far he has no evidence of police involvement in any of the cases.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the protests on the streets of Caracas



SEE ALSO:
Abducted boys killed in Venezuela
05 Apr 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Venezuela
25 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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