The 19-year-old-daughter of a Chilean diplomat serving in Venezuela, Consul Fernando Berendique, has been shot dead by Venezuelan police.

The consul's daughter, Karen Berendique, was in a car driven by her brother who ignored police orders to stop at a checkpoint. He drove through the barrier and police opened fire.

It is believed he refused to stop because of a wave of violence against diplomats and their families in Venezuela over the last few months.

Up to 12 policemen have been arrested pending investigations.

Police chief Jose Ramirez said the officers in Maracaibo had been looking for a gang of car robbers. The weapons of all the officers had been seized to establish who fired the fatal shots, reported Zee Network.

In the runup to presidential elections in Venezuela, the atmosphere is said to be jittery and violence is on the increase. The shooting is the third to involve the diplomatic services in four months.

In November, a Chilean diplomat in Caracas was kidnapped, beaten and then set free. In January, a Mexican diplomat along with his wife was abducted for hours, noted the Brisbane Times.