CARACAS (Reuters) – Gunmen stormed a graduation party at a home in Venezuela’s central Bolivar state and killed eight people, including six teenagers, the country’s public prosecutor said on Sunday.
The Attorney General’s office said in a statement that several armed men opened fire repeatedly on the revelers on Saturday in Caicara del Orinoco, a town on the southern bank of the Orinoco River.
The South American country suffers one of the world’s worst homicide rates and shootings are common. But it is rare for there to be such a high number of fatalities in one incident.
A local newspaper, the Correo del Caroni, said the victims had been attending a college graduation celebration.
“They beat them up inside the house and then executed them without mercy … they didn’t leave anyone alive,” one community leader, who asked for anonymity, told the paper.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government is under pressure to show it can reduce violent crime, the biggest concern for Venezuelans.
In a separate incident on Sunday, four men and a woman were killed by hooded gunmen at a birthday party in Valle de La Pascua in central Guarico state, prosecutors said.
Maduro’s administration says it is making progress and accuses the media and the opposition of using scare tactics to exaggerate the bloodshed for political gain.
Experts say the problem is rooted in a dysfunctional justice system, gang-controlled prisons, and poor working conditions for police – some of whom are believed to carry out serious crimes.
(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Paul Simao)
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