Candidate in Venezuela shot dead before election

Assailants burst into Jose Felix Pineda's home Saturday night.

ByABC News
July 30, 2017, 12:00 AM
An anti-government activist is arrested during clashes in Caracas, July 28, 2017.
An anti-government activist is arrested during clashes in Caracas, July 28, 2017.
Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

— -- The death of a candidate in Venezuela’s highly contested elections taking place on Sunday is being investigated after a group of assailants entered his home and fired several shots, a local prosecutor has said, according to the Venezuelan Public Ministry.

Assailants burst into the home of 39-year-old José Félix Pineda on Saturday night, according to an attorney for Ciudad Bolivar, the capital of Venezuela's southeastern Bolívar state. The news of Pineda's death before today’s vote was announced Sunday via the Venezuela’s Public Ministry’s Twitter account.

“A group of people broke into the residence of the victim located in the sector Brisas del Sur Tres and shot several shots,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Pineda was on a ticket to become part of Venezuela’s potential new constitutional assembly, which would be tasked with rewriting the country’s constitution.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cast an unusual early morning vote just after 6 a.m. on Sunday in the election for the constitutional assembly that his political opponents contend would ensure that the ruling socialist party continues its grip on the South American country. Today’s vote was ordered by decree, and no referendum was held to indicate a majority is seeking change.

Venezuela has fallen into chaos under Maduro’s four years of rule thanks to sharply lower oil prices and widespread corruption. Inflation, skyrocketing homicide rates and widespread shortages of food and medicine have sparked a crisis.

The political opposition is boycotting Sunday's vote. Demonstrators made a final effort to flood streets across the country amid threats of years of jail time for anyone who publicly protested. Violence has left at least 113 dead and nearly 2,000 wounded in four months of protests, according to The Associated Press.

Opinion polls say more than 70 percent of the country is opposed to Sunday's vote, the AP reports.

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