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Slain beauty queen mourned in Venezuela

By AP - Feb 22,2014 - Last updated at Feb 22,2014

VALENCIA, Venezuela — A university student beauty queen was mourned Friday in the provincial Venezuelan city where she was slain last week during a political protest, a victim of what government opponents say is indiscriminate violence used by President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters to stifle dissent across the country.

Family members and friends of 22-year-old Genesis Carmona say the former Miss Tourism 2013 for the central Venezuelan state of Carabobo was shot down by members of the armed militias known as “colectivos” who opened fire on a demonstration in Valencia on Tuesday.

The government says the incident is under investigation and Maduro said at a news conference Friday that it has been “well-established” by ballistics experts that shot came from the opposition protesters. Mourners at the private Mass and graveside memorial for Carmona said they have no doubt which side fired the fatal round.

“She wanted to support her country and, well, look what it cost her for going out with a flag and a whistle. Killed by government mercenaries,” said Jose Gil, an uncle of Carmona.

The violence drew condemnation Friday from US based watchdog group Human Rights Watch, which said “Venezuelan security forces have used excessive and unlawful force against protesters on multiple occasions since February 12, 2014, including beating detainees and shooting at crowds of unarmed people.”

The report also said “the government has censored the news media, blocking transmission of a TV channel and threatening to prosecute news outlets for their coverage of the violence.” 

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