Air Canada suspends flights to Venezuela as death toll rises

Canadian airline can no longer guarantee the safety of crew as violent clashes continue

Air Canada has suspended flights to Venezuela citing "security concerns" as violent clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces continue.

The airline, which operates three weekly flights between Toronto and the capital of Caracas, said it could no longer guarantee the safety of its operation and crew.

The Canadian airline said in a statement: "Due to ongoing civil unrest in Venezuela, Air Canada can no longer ensure the safety of its operation and has suspended flights to Caracas until further notice."

On Monday, a Venezuelan national guard was shot in the head taking the death toll to 29 casualties- including protesters and government supporters- following six weeks of social unrest on both sides of the political spectrum across the country.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and political heir to Hugo Chavez, insist they are protesting against rising inflation, soaring crime, power blackouts and shortages of basic goods such as flour, toilet paper and cooking oil.

The Maduro administration claims the protests are part of a fascist-led coup d'etat funded by the Venezuelan elites in a bid to topple the government following a razor-thin presidential victory for Bolivarian Revolution movement in April in last year.

Meanwhile, opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, remains in jail following his arrest on 20 February on charges of inciting violence in a military prison.

Read more: Venezuelan army occupies plaza in Caracas
Venezuelans rally outside White House urging Obama to step in
Venezuelan beauty queen shot to death amid protest

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