Teen shot dead in food truck looting in Venezuela

A 19-year-old Venezuelan was shot dead Wednesday when hundreds of people looted trucks carrying flour and chicken in the western city of Guanare, as the oil-rich but impoverished country faces desperate food shortages.

According to police and military reports obtained by AFP the unrest began when about 1,000 people looting the trucks started fighting among themselves.

Jose Materan, 19, received two gunshot wounds and died in hospital, where three others were being treated for injuries.

It was not immediately clear who fired at him.

Many of the looters made off with bags of wheat flour or chicken, police said.

Venezuela is in the throes of a deepening crisis caused by falling oil prices, spiraling inflation, and corruption that has decimated the oil-rich South American country's economy.

There have been in the past several days looting and attempted looting in a number of towns and cities nationwide in this South American oil giant.

In Carabobo state, a man and woman were arrested for "hate crimes" for protesting food shortages. Under the new legislation from the pro-government special assembly, they could face more than a decade in jail.

Hyperinflation is expected to top 2,300 percent this year in Venezuela.

Local universities say 30.2 percent of Venezuelans face poverty and 51.5 percent extreme poverty while the government puts the figures at 18.3 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

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