Venezuela probes killing of eight at graduation party

July 22, 2013

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela launched an investigation Sunday after eight people, including two minors, were shot dead at a graduation party in the southern Bolivar state.

Officials said gunmen stormed into the house party early Saturday as people were celebrating college graduation and opened fire. The dead included a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old.

Venezuela has among the highest homicide rates in the world, though mass shootings are rare.

There were 3,400 homicides in the first quarter of this year alone, after 16,000 people were murdered in 2012, according to government figures.

The lack of security is a major concern for Venezuelans, and President Nicolás Maduro has struggled to confront the problem since succeeding the late leftist leader Hugo Chávez earlier this year.

Last month, Maduro signed gun control legislation requiring citizens to register firearms or surrender them as part of an amnesty.

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