Venezuelan opposition leader attacked during national tour

CARACAS, Venezuela — The leader of the U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela was physically attacked Saturday during a visit to a rural community, according to members of his parallel government, who accused a group of ruling party associates of carrying out the assault.

A photo accompanying the opposition statement shows Juan Guaidó being held back as people gather around him and someone rips his shirt off. The parallel government said the group, which was associated with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, known as PSUV, “hit and insulted” Guaidó, who is on a tour around the South American country seeking to unite and organize his party ahead of a planned primary election.

Guaidó tweeted that he planned to make a statement on social media Saturday night on the incident in San Carlos, a community about 270 kilometers (168 miles) southwest of Caracas, the capital.

PSUV leaders, who traditionally issue statements on social media or state television, did not immediately respond to the accusations.

Last week, Guaidó’s supporters were met by a barrage of flying plastic chairs and fisticuffs from allies of President Nicolás Maduro in the western city of Maracaibo.

The U.S. and other nations recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.

Brian Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, on Saturday condemned what he described as an “unprovoked attack” on Guaidó.

“This egregious attack risked lives; those responsible for the assault should be brought to justice,” he said.