Venezuelan authorities say they are putting down a small coup attempt after opposition leader Juan Guaido announced he was in the “final phase” of ending President Nicolas Maduro’s rule.
He appeared in a video with uniformed men, saying he had military support.
Mr Guaido, who declared himself interim president in January, called for more members of the military to help him end Mr Maduro’s “usurpation” of power.
The military has generally supported Mr Maduro in the stand-off with Mr Guaido.
But as resentment has grown following years of hyperinflation, power cuts, food and medicine shortages, Mr Maduro’s detractors hope the military will change its allegiance.
So far, they have stood by Mr Maduro – despite dozens of countries, including the UK, the US and most of Latin America, recognising Mr Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
Juan Guaido greets supporters in Caracas Photo: AP
The world is now watching to see if Mr Guaido’s latest bid will be the moment Mr Maduro is toppled from power.
Mr Maduro, however, has emerged saying he still has the full support of the military.
Protesters supporting both sides have gathered at different points in the capital, Caracas.
There are running clashes between Mr Guaido’s supporters and armed military vehicles. Protesters were also seen throwing rocks, but being repelled by tear gas and water cannon.
Television cameras also caught the moment armoured vehicles drove into a crowd but it is unclear if there were any injuries.
An opposition demonstrator walks near a bus in flames during clashes with soldiers loyal to President Maduro near La Carlota military base in Caracas. Photo: AFP
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino has appeared on television to emphasise that the military remain behind Mr Maduro.
He said the uprising by some members of the military had been “partly defeated”, but warned of possible bloodshed.
“The weapons of the republic are here to defend the nation’s sovereignty and independence,” he warned.
Opponents of President Maduro throw stones at soldiers loyal to the president inside La Carlota airbase in Caracas. Photo: AP
A three-minute video by Mr Guaidó was published in the early hours of Tuesday. In it, he announced he had the support of “brave soldiers” in Caracas.
“People of Venezuela, let’s take to the streets… to support the end of the usurpation, which is irreversible… The National Armed Forces have taken the correct decision, they have the support of the people of Venezuela, and the backing of our constitution, they are guaranteed to be on the right side of history,” he said.
He was filmed alongside another opposition leader, Leopoldo López, who has been under house arrest since being found guilty of inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.
Mr Lopez said he had been freed by members of the military who had declared their loyalty to Mr Guaidó.
Mr Guaido, the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, has been calling on the military to back him ever since he declared himself interim president.
He argues that President Maduro is a “usurper” because he was re-elected in polls that had been widely disputed.
The video appeared to have been recorded at dawn in or near La Carlota air force base in Caracas.
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