At least two people were killed Wednesday when violent clashes marred what opposition leaders in Venezuela had billed as a massive march on a national holiday commemorating the start of the troubled country's independence struggle against Spain.
Hours after the start of competing marches by the opposition as well as supporters of embattled President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's public ministry said it had launched an investigation into the shooting of a 17-year-old man who was struck in the head an hour into the march in Caracas.
The teenager, later identified as Carlos Moreno, died while undergoing surgery, a hospital representative told CNN.
Moreno's sister, Alejandra, said Carlos studied economics at Venezuelan Central University in Caracas. Instead of joining the marches, she said, he was on the way to play soccer.
The ministry later said it was also investigating the Wednesday afternoon shooting death of Paola Andreina Ramírez Gómez, 23, in plaza San Carlos in San Cristóbal, Tachira state
Jorban Contreras, a paramedic and director of the civil protection unit in Tachira, said the woman lost a lot of blood and was already dead from a gunshot wound to her chest when he arrived.
After the earlier shooting, video posted on social media showed a young man on the ground in the San Bernardino neighborhood -- a pool of blood near his head -- surrounded by marchers. A woman is heard yelling, "They've killed him."
Maduro, who along with his supporters called for the countermarch, had deployed the Venezuelan armed forces to the streets on Sunday night amid rising tensions.
Wednesday's marches underscored the widening political rifts in the country, where the opposition has accused Maduro of creating a dictatorship in the last few years. The government has repeatedly blocked any attempts by the opposition to oust Maduro from power by a referendum vote. It has also delayed local and state elections.
Government supporters and security forces on Wednesday succeeded in blocking marchers from reaching certain parts of the city, according to observers. Throughout the day, water cannons and tear gas canisters were unleashed on opposition marchers.
Video posted on social media showed marchers -- some covering their faces -- crossing the narrow Guaire River in the nation's capital in attempts to elude tear gas blasts.The video was posted by David Smolansky, mayor of the municipality of El Hatillo and an opposition leader.