Man fatally shot in Venezuela gasoline protest; second such incident this month

CARACAS (Reuters) - A man was shot and killed during a protest over gasoline shortages in eastern Venezuela on Saturday, officials and a local human rights group said, less than two weeks after a similar incident in the oil-producing but fuel-starved nation.

The rights group Provea, citing witnesses, said Carlos Chaparro, 47, died of a shot allegedly fired by a member of the National Guard as a crowd decried the shortage of fuel at a service station in the town of Aragua de Barcelona, in eastern Anzoategui state.

Fuel shortages are crippling the OPEC country because of years of underinvestment and mismanagement at Venezuela’s 1.3 million-barrel-per-day refining network, leaving it mostly idled, as well as U.S. sanctions designed to force out socialist President Nicolas Maduro that have complicated gasoline imports.

While a flotilla of tankers bringing gasoline from ally Iran helped alleviate the shortages in June, fuel has again grown scarce. On July 16, Jose Luis Albornoz, 19, was killed during a gasoline protest in the fishing village of Toas Island in northern Zulia state.

“This is further evidence of the crisis our people are living through due to the lack of gasoline,” Antonio Barreto Sira, the opposition-aligned governor of Anzoategui, wrote on Twitter.

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, Tarek William Saab, said his office had ordered an investigation into the incident.

Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Peter Cooney