EU parliament slams 'brutal repression' in Venezuela

Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro started rallying on April 1 against moves to strengthen his hold on power

EU lawmakers on Thursday overwhelmingly condemned "brutal repression" in Venezuela, where anti-government unrest has left 28 people dead this month.

In a resolution, the European Parliament said it "strongly condemns the brutal repression exercised by the Venezuelan security forces, as well as irregular armed groups, against the peaceful protests".

MEPs also urged the Venezuelan government to investigate all the deaths and bring those responsible to justice, as well as guaranteeing the right to peaceful further protests.

The resolution -- approved by 450 votes to 35 with 100 abstentions, and backed by all the major political groups in the EU parliament -- is the latest expression of international alarm over the chaos in major oil exporter Venezuela.

President Nicolas Maduro, a protege of late leader Hugo Chavez, is resisting opposition attempts to remove him, with repeated protests erupting into deadly clashes with riot police.

The European Parliament called on Venezuela to allow in aid, amid an economic collapse fuelled by a plunge in international oil prices.

MEPs urged the EU's diplomatic chief to explore with international organisations "other measures that would enable the EU to restore full democracy to Venezuela."