At least three people have been killed in Venzuela in recent food riots and lootings. Authorities are investigating the death of two 21-year-old men and and a 42-year-old woman, who were shot during protests outside shops across the country.

The two men died respectively in Sucre state and the capital Caracas, while the woman was killed in the state of Tachira. The circumstances of the deaths are not clear yet, but a policeman was arrested over the Tachira death and a National Guard sergeant major was arrested in connection with the death in Sucre, Reuters reported.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been rocked by violent protests due to food shortages, with protesters taking to the streets chanting "we are hungry" as they are unable to buy basic items such as flour and rice.

Local group Venezuelan Observatory of Violence claimed that at least 10 incidents of looting are occurring daily. The Social Conflict group estimated that out of 641 protests the country witnessed in the past month, more than a quarter were related to the ongoing food crisis.

Although Venezuela announced plans to import food, there are fears that looting will increase as local production of various food items has halted.

Protests are occurring as the country's opposition is calling for a referendum on whether President Nicolás Maduro should continue to stay in power or not. Maduro has been accused of failing to restore the country's crippled economy negatively impacted by falling oil prices.

Maduro, however, said a referendum to recall him from the presidency will not be held until next year. He has also accused the opposition of seeking to overthrow him.