Assailants shot dead a former Miss Venezuela and her ex-husband in the latest high-profile case of violent crime in the South American nation, authorities said on Tuesday (January 7).

Monica Spear, 29, who was also a soap opera actress, and Henry Berry, 39, died in an attempted robbery on the highway between Puerto Cabello and Valencia in central Venezuela.

The 2004 Miss Venezuela winner lived in the United States but was vacationing in Venezuela. The pair's 5-year-old daughter survived the attack late on Monday, but with a bullet wound in her leg, the government and local media said.

Reports indicated Spear's car may have broken down before armed robbers approached - a common occurrence on roads after dark in one of the world's most violent nations.

Spear became Miss Venezuela in 2004. At the time, Spear told the media she had faced tough competition.

Venezuela's official homicide rate last year was 39 per 100,000 inhabitants, but local non-government organisations put the figure at nearly twice that for a total of 24,000 deaths.

Presented by Adam Justice