An opposition student lights a firecracker as he prepares to throw it towards police outside the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. Picture: Fernando Llano

Caracas -

Venezuelan riot police fired water cannons and teargas on Thursday at stone-throwing student protesters in the capital Caracas, leaving at least seven injured.

Demonstrators had initially been riled by armed vigilantes they link to the government. Riding motorcycles, the men had fired guns into the air at the Central University of Venezuela's campus.

Students, some of them masked, beat two motorcyclists.

The confrontations were the latest violence in two months of near-daily protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government that have seen 39 people killed and 550 injured. Hundreds of opposition and student demonstrators have been detained.

A march called by student leaders had sought to leave the university for the offices of the vice president who is in charge of the economy when the national guard and riot police intercepted them.

The injured suffered bruises, fractures and open wounds, student leader Hilda Rubi Gonzalez said, adding that they were all in “stable” condition.

At least four photojournalists and cameramen from local media were attacked and robbed, according to the victims and press freedom groups.

At night, the historical Caracas district of Chacao, which is an opposition bastion, was the scene of clashes between a small group of masked men armed with stones and riot police, who responded with teargas.

Protesters are venting their anger over soaring crime, high inflation and shortages of essential goods. - Sapa-AFP