Opposition leader in Venezuela Guaidó vows crippling strikes

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has called for an escalating series of strikes to force President Nicolás Maduro to relinquish power.

Guaidó urged public employees to act on Thursday, saying the stoppages would lead to a general strike.

A woman was killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Caracas on Wednesday, reports say.

Mr Maduro meanwhile dismissed suggestions he had been ready to flee and accused the US of directing a coup.

Those involved would be punished, he said.

Tensions over the crisis are also rising between the US and Russia.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US could take military action to resolve the crisis and accused Russia and Cuba of destabilising the country through their support for Mr Maduro.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Mr Pompeo that America’s influence over Venezuela was destructive and a violation of international law.

Mr Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s interim leader in January and has been recognised by more than 50 countries, including the US, the UK and most in Latin America.

But Mr Maduro – backed by Russia, China and the top of the country’s military – has refused to cede power.