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The Latest: Peru's leader criticizes turmoil in Venezuela

Destroyed merchandise is strewn on a supermarket floor around empty shelves, a day after a night of looting in El Valle neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, April 21, 2017. At least 12 people were killed overnight following looting and violence in Venezuela's capital amid a spiraling political crisis, authorities said Friday. Most of the deaths took place in El Valle, a working class neighborhood near Caracas' biggest military base where opposition leaders say a group of people were hit with an electrical current while trying to loot a bakery protected by an electric fence. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Destroyed merchandise is strewn on a supermarket floor around empty shelves, a day after a night of looting in El Valle neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, April 21, 2017. At least 12 people were killed overnight following looting and violence in Venezuela's capital amid a spiraling political crisis, authorities said Friday. Most of the deaths took place in El Valle, a working class neighborhood near Caracas' biggest military base where opposition leaders say a group of people were hit with an electrical current while trying to loot a bakery protected by an electric fence. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

CARACAS, Venezuela — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is criticizing the turmoil in Venezuela, where three weeks of anti-government protests have produced at least 20 deaths and dozens of arrests.

In a message broadcast on Peru's state television, he says: "There should be no political prisoners in a democracy. There should be no deaths in demonstrations."

Kuczynski is a former Wall Street banker who has always criticized the socialist administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The Peruvian leader says he is working with other governments "to promote respect for democracy in the brother country of Venezuela." He also says there is a need for humanitarian aid for Venezuelans, whose struggling economy is beset by widespread shortages of food and other basic goods.

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3:40 p.m.

A woman whose butcher's shop was ransacked in violence overnight in Venezuela says the attack was like "a war."

Liliana Altuna says looters armed with guns and knives attacked about 30 businesses in the community of El Valle over the course of five hours.

An officer tried to help but Altuna says police were unable to stop looters from breaking the windows of her business and violently grabbing refrigerators, lamps, security cameras and anything else they could seize.

Looting and other violence following two days of big protests have left at least 12 people dead. Overall, 20 people have been killed this month in unrest that erupted after the Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers, a decision it later reversed.

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3 p.m.

Venezuelan Vice-President Tareck El Aissami says the country is facing what he calls an "unconventional war" led by opposition groups working in concert with criminal gangs.

He said on Friday that claims by the opposition that government forces were responsible for launching tear gas at a maternity hospital during a protest are just another attempt to demoralize a people who have "decided to break ties with the bourgeoisie forever."

At least 20 people overall have been killed this month in the South American country in unrest that has erupted since the government-stacked Supreme Court briefly gutted congress of its last vestiges of power.

The move made three weeks ago was reversed amid a storm of international criticism.

Opposition members say they have no intention of slowing protests demanding new elections and criticizing a government they deem a dictatorship responsible for triple-digit inflation, rising crime and food shortages.

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1:30 p.m.

Authorities in Venezuela say 12 people were killed overnight following looting and violence in the South American nation's capital amid a spiraling political crisis.

The Public Ministry confirmed the deaths Friday and said another six were hurt.

Most of the deaths took place in El Valle, where opposition leaders say 13 people were hit with an electrical current while trying to loot a bakery protected by an electric fence.

Tens of thousands of people opposed to Venezuela's socialist government took to the streets on Thursday in ongoing protests demanding elections and denouncing what they consider an increasingly authoritarian government. They were met by tear gas and rubber bullets as they tried to march to downtown Caracas.

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