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Venezuelan beauty queen killed in protest

Opposition supporter Génesis Carmona is evacuated from protests on a motorcycle on Tuesday. (Notitarde)

A 22-year-old student and former beauty queen died Wednesday after being shot in the head a day earlier during anti-government protests.

Génesis Carmona was marching with the opposition in the northern state of Carabobo when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire, officials told the Associated Press. Several other people were injured.

Human-rights organizations have denounced the increasing violence and repression against protesters in several cities as the demonstrations have spread in recent days.

Carmona was Miss Tourism Carabobo 2013, and news of her death spread quickly through Web sites and social media. People were quick to point out that she was killed in the same state where a former Miss Venezuela, Monica Spear, was shot and killed by bandits in January.

Spear was shot in an apparent robbery attempt on a highway along with her ex-husband, as their 5-year-old daughter looked on. The child was injured but survived.

Correspondent Nick Miroff wrote at the time that “beauty queens are as revered here as top athletes and movie stars,” and that the government of President Nicolás Maduro was scrambling to contain the public outrage.”

The insecurity has led Venezuelans to lash out at the government on social media and in street protests for the past several days

The country of 30 million people has one of the highest homicide rates in the world: The number of killings rose to 24,763 last year, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, although the government has said crime is falling.

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