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Venezuela regime foe sought

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 9:18 p.m.

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Saturday that a police manhunt was under way for Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader behind anti-government demonstrations that ended with three deaths.

The socialist president's announcement was made amid dueling pro-government and student-led opposition demonstrations held in different parts of the capital, Caracas.

Lopez “ordered all these violent kids, which he trained, to destroy the prosecutor's office and half of Caracas and then goes into hiding,” Maduro told thousands of supporters at a rally to denounce what he called a U.S.-backed “fascist” plot to oust him from power.

“Turn yourself in, coward,” he said.

The president said security forces acting on a Feb. 12 arrest order are looking for Lopez, who has not been seen since a Wednesday night news conference in which he vowed that anti-government street protests would continue.

Maduro did not mention Lopez by name, referring to him only by a frequently used disparaging nickname, “The Throne,” to denote what he considers the Harvard-trained politician's haughty political ambitions.

Still, his comments seemed to confirm a report on Thursday by local newspaper El Universal, which published what it said was a leaked copy of an arrest order for Lopez on charges ranging from vandalism of public property to terrorism.

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