Gunmen have shot and killed two local leaders of parties backing Venezuela's presidential challenger Henrique Capriles in the worst violence of a volatile campaign before the election next weekend, the opposition says.
The Reuters news agency quoted Capriles' party, Primero Justicia (First Justice), as saying that the gunmen fired from a van during a rally in the agricultural state of Barinas on Saturday.
The government of President Hugo Chavez, who is seeking re-election, confirmed the deaths and vowed the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
Tareck El Aissami, the interior minister, said the shooting happened when loyalists of both candidates faced off on a road between the communities of Barinas and Barinitas, about 450km southwest of Caracas, but he did not say anything about the dead men's political affiliation.
Opposition politician Julio Cesar Reyes said a group of Chavez supporters blocked a motorcade of Capriles backers and people on both sides were arguing when a man appeared with a gun and started shooting.
The interior minister said police were still investigating.