Venezuela braced for an outbreak of political violence on Wednesday as hundreds of thousands of anti-government demonstrators flooded on to the streets of Caracas for what the opposition billed the “mother of all marches” against the government.

Tensions – which have built up over several weeks of bloody protests – were ratcheted up after a student died having been shot in the head near a clash between pro- and anti-government groups.

Fears of bloodshed were stoked after President Nicolás Maduro put troops on the streets, supplied guns to sympathetic civil militias and called for a simultaneous rally of his supporters against what he said was a United States-backed coup.

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