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Armed civilians attack opposition convoy outside Venezuelan congress

A group of armed civilians attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying Venezuelan opposition politicians to congress on Wednesday, as President Nicolas Maduro seeks to bar opposition leader Juan Guaido from presiding over parliament.

CARACAS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - A group of armed civilians attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying Venezuelan opposition politicians to congress on Wednesday, as President Nicolas Maduro seeks to bar opposition leader Juan Guaido from presiding over parliament.

A crowd of men hit the cars with traffic cones and crowbars, breaking one car's back window, according to a video recorded by an opposition member from inside the vehicle. The convoy then sped away.

Guaido's spokesman said four opposition politicians were in the vehicles, including Carlos Berrizbeitia, Guaido's second congressional vice president. No one was injured.

On Jan. 5, troops blocked Guaido from entering congress and the Socialist Party declared allied legislator Luis Parra as head of parliament, allowing Maduro to seize control of the one Venezuelan institution outside his grip.

Opposition legislators in a separate session that day re-elected Guaido to a second term, and he later returned to the legislative palace to hold session. Guaido has branded Parra, who defected from the opposition after becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal in December, "a traitor."

Guaido and his allies had said they would try to hold their weekly parliamentary session at congress on Wednesday.

The U.S. Treasury on Monday imposed sanctions on Parra and six of his allies "who, at the bidding of Maduro, attempted to block the democratic process in Venezuela." Parra condemned the sanctions as an attempt by a foreign nation to meddle in the assembly's affairs.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago Writing by Angus Berwick Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

((angus.berwick@thomsonreuters.com - Twitter: @AABerwick;))

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