Seven shot dead at Venezuelan funeral

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Gunmen opened fire at mourners during a burial in Venezuela on Thursday, killing seven people and leaving five wounded, authorities and local media said.

The shooting took place in the old cemetery of the central town of Turmero, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

“Several armed men fired against a group of people at the funeral of a friend who had died days earlier,” the statement said, describing the incident as a “clash”.

Local media said the victims died in a fight between rival gangs as one group buried one of its members.

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According to the El Nacional newspaper, attackers from the “Tonito de Paya” gang were enemies of the man being buried and blamed five earlier murders on him.

They hid in the cemetery until the arrival of the dead man’s relatives, then opened fire as the burial got under way, the newspaper said.

Six of the victims died at the scene, while the seventh was killed in a street while trying to escape.

Venezuela has the world’s second-highest homicide rate, with 58 per 100,000 inhabitants per year, according to the World Health Organization.

The South American nation has been beset by violence, with gangs killing relatives or friends of rivals, going as far as opening fire inside hospitals.