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Seven million vote in Venezuela referendum

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July 17, 2017

Venezuelans turn out to vote in an opposition-organised informal plebiscite against the President.

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have lined up to vote in a symbolic rejection of President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution, a proposal that's raising tensions in a nation battered by shortages and anti-government protests.

The unofficial referendum, in which at least one person has died, was organised by the political opposition.

A 61-year-old woman was killed and four people were wounded in shooting that erupted after government supporters on motorcycles swarmed an opposition polling site in a church in the traditionally pro-government Catia neighbourhood of western Caracas.

The chief prosecutor's office said Xiomara Soledad Scott, a nurse, was killed and three were wounded in the incident.

Earlier, DPA reported opposition claims that at least two people had died in the Catia incident.

"There was an incident in Catia a short while ago in which paramilitaries opened fire," opposition spokesman Carlos Ocariz was quoted as telling reporters. "There were four seriously injured and two dead."

Video posted to social media showed massive crowds outside the church, then hundreds of people running in panic as motorcycle-riding men zoomed past and shots rang out.

Maduro made no mention of the incident in comments on state television shortly after the official close of opposition polls at 4 pm, but called for an end to violence that he blamed on the opposition.

In what appeared to be smaller numbers in many parts of the capital, government supporters went to polling stations in what's being seen as a rehearsal for a July 30 vote to elect members of the assembly that will retool Venezuela's 1999 constitution.

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