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Pregnant woman, National Guardman killed; latest casulaties of violence in Venezuela

By Fabiola Sanchez

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 24 2014 3:01 p.m. MDT

In this March 16, 2014, file photo, opposition Congresswoman Maria Corina Machado speaks to the media and supporters in front of a line of Bolivarian National Guards during an anti-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. The head of Venezuela's congress, Diosdado Cabello, said Monday March 24, 2014, that Machado has lost her seat in the legislature and is no longer immune from prosecution for her alleged role fomenting violence in anti-government protests.

Esteban Felix, File, Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela — A pregnant woman who was shot in the head and a National Guard member fired upon as he tried to clear a roadway are the latest casualties of violence tied to ongoing protests in Venezuela, authorities said Monday.

The head of Venezuela's congress, meanwhile, said a top opposition politician had lost her seat and is no longer immune from prosecution for allegedly fomenting violence in the anti-government protests.

The woman who was killed, 28-year-old Adriana Urquiola, died Sunday night in Guaicaipuro, said the mayor of the municipality just outside the capital of Caracas.

Five months pregnant, Urquiola was shot after she left a bus that was stuck in traffic because of a barricade built by anti-government protesters. She had begun walking toward the road block but didn't appear to have been participating in the protest. It was unclear when she was fired upon.

The National Guard member, Sgt. Miguel Antonio Parra, died Monday during a street demonstration in Merida, said the southwestern city's mayor, Carlos Garcia. The opposition politician said Parra was shot when he and two other National Guard members were trying to clear the roadways and were confronted by protesters.

A series of protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro began five weeks ago, less than a year after Maduro succeeded the late Hugo Chavez.

With the latest casualties, at least 33 people have died in the subsequent violence.

Political fallout from the protests continued on Monday.

Diosado Cabello, who heads the Venezuelan congress, said that opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado had violated the constitution by addressing the Organization of American States last week at the invitation of Panama, which ceded its seat at the Washington-based group so she could provide regional diplomats with a firsthand account of the unrest.

Maduro referred to Machado as "ex-congresswoman" on Saturday, a few days after arresting two opposition mayors for allegedly conspiring with the U.S. to topple his 11-month-old administration.

Machado responded in a Twitter message Monday: "Landing in Lima. Mr. Cabello: i AM a congresswoman as long the people of Venezuela want me to be."

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