The leader of Venezuela's opposition was hit in the face with a pipe as he attempted to make his way into a government building. Congressman Julio Borges was attacked by men he identified as government supporters. They left him with blood streaming down from his nose and mouth.

Venezuela protests
Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hit opposition deputy Julio BorgesJuan Barreto/AFP
Venezuela protests
Supporters of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro hit opposition deputy Julio BorgesJuan Barreto/AFP

Borges had been attempting to enter the headquarters of the country's electoral body in Caracas with other opposition figures. Security was heavy, with lines of police looking on. Borges accused police of pushing him toward gangs loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.

Demonstrations were held in Caracas to demand a recall referendum against Maduro. Hundreds of opposition university students marched through the streets chanting anti-government slogans. Police blocked their way and clashes broke out. Students covered their faces with Venezuelan flags and threw bottles, stones and petrol bombs while police lobbed tear gas and fired rubber bullets.

Venezuela protests
Opponents of the government clash with supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas MaduroJuan Barreto/AFP
Venezuela protests
Opponents of Nicolas Maduro's government clash with riot policeFederico Parra/AFP
Venezuela protests
Demonstrators prepare to throw petrol bombs towards riot police officersCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela protests
A demonstrator throws a petrol bomb at riot police during a protest called by university students against Venezuela's government in CaracasCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela protests
Police clash with students from the Central University of VenezuelaFederico Parra/AFP
Venezuela protests
A petrol bomb explodes near riot police outside the universityRonaldo Schemidt/AFP
Venezuela protests
A protester uses a slingshot during clashes with policeCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela protests
Riot police react during clashes with students from the Central University of VenezuelaRonaldo Schemidt/AFP
Venezuela protests
Riot police fire rubber bullets and tear gas grenades at studentsFederico Parra/AFP
Venezuela protests
Students use rubbish bin covers to take cover from rubber bullets fired by riot policeRonaldo Schemidt/AFP
Venezuela protests
Demonstrators take cover as they clash with riot police officersCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela protests
A demonstrator prepares to throw a stone towards riot police officersCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela protests
Riot police suffer from the effects of tear gasFederico Parra/AFP
Venezuela protests
A riot police officer reacts to the effects of tear gas during clashes with demonstratorsCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela protests
A demonstrator reacts to the tear gas fired by riot police officersCarlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela protests
Riot police fire rubber bullets and tear gas grenades at students from the Central University of VenezuelaFederico Parra/AFP
Venezuela protests
Students from the public University of Venezuela clash with riot police in CaracasRonaldo Schemidt/AFP
Venezuela protests
Riot police line up outside the Central University of Venezuela in CaracasRonaldo Schemidt/AFP

Maduro condemned the incident during a televised address. "I disavow violence in all of its forms; today, tomorrow and always," he said. "I condemn today's violence in Caracas, which was a product of right-wing provocations. I call on the people to never fall for those provocations again."

Venezuela protests
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters as he arrives for an event in CaracasMiraflores Palace/Reuters

Tension is rising in Venezuela as a severe economic crisis fuels protests over chronic shortages of food and basic supplies. Venezuela's opposition, riding the wave of public ire over the crisis, won control of the National Assembly in a December election but says the election board is under the sway of the government and is dragging its feet on the referendum. Government officials have said there is no time this year to organise the vote. If Maduro lost a referendum in 2016, a new presidential election would be held, but if he departed in 2017, his vice president would take over.