CARACAS: Venezuelan police chased anti- government protesters into a shopping mall and fired tear gas, leaving dozens injured in the latest spasm of violence in the oil-rich nation saddled with deep economic woes and grassroots anger.
The violent round of cat-and-mouse came a day after one of the most stunning episodes in three months of unrest: a pro-government, stick-wielding mob overrunning Congress.
The malaise has cost the lives of 91 people as opposition activists who blame President Nicolas Maduro for the country's descent into food shortages and other economic chaos press on with nearly daily street protests.
Yesterday they tried to march on the Supreme Court, which the opposition says is stacked with pro-Maduro lackies. But police firing tear gas pushed them back and even chased some fleeing demonstrators into a huge shopping mall and shot the stinging gas in there, too.
A total of 45 people in the mall, including 17 children, received emergency medical treatment, said Ramon Muchacho, mayor of the Caracas district Chacao, which is an opposition stronghold.
"We came here to get an ice cream and see a movie, and look at this disaster," said adolescent Alejandra Vargas, her eyes red from the tear gas. Nearby, a woman carrying a baby was escorted out by firefighters.
Protester Rosa Rivas, 43, taking part in the rally with her 15-year-old daughter, said when the police forced the crowd to disperse, some went into the mall, either through the main entrance or a parking garage.
"But they chased us. People were running for their lives," Rivas told AFP. The entire mall -- 531 stores -- was later evacuated as a precaution.