Caracas (AFP) - Venezuelan riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets for a second day Thursday to break up protests by President Nicolas Maduro's opponents, further inflaming tensions after Wednesday's deadly unrest.
The clashes erupted as police in the beleaguered oil-rich nation tried to break up thousands of marchers as they reached a vital Caracas freeway, edging back slightly as masked protesters pelted them with stones and Molotov cocktails.
Demonstrators vowed not to flinch in their campaign to oust Maduro, despite three weeks of violent protest that has seen eight people killed, three of them on Wednesday.
"Sure we're tired, but we've got to stand strong. I'm ready to take to the streets every day if I have to," said 22-year-old student Aquiles Aldazoro.
Protesters set fire to trash bins and tore down a billboard to use as a barricade as officers fired water cannon at them and a police helicopter hovered overhead.
"I don't care if I inhale gas, I don't care if I die. We have to put a stop to this murdering, repressing government," said Natasha Borges, 17.
One protester, completely naked except for sneakers, walked up to police and shouted: "Please, stop gas-bombing us."
Another draped in a Venezuelan flag defiantly marched up to an armored truck and stared it down.