Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of students demonstrating in Venezuela's capital Thursday, a fifth day of protests against President Hugo Chavez for forcing an opposition TV channel off cable and satellite.
Some of the protesters threw rocks at police in riot gear when officers moved to break up the rally outside the offices of the state-run electricity company.
While charging that the government is trying to curb criticism, the students also used their demonstration to call attention to electricity shortages plaguing much of Venezuela and other pressing domestic problems like double-digit inflation.
University students have taken to the streets daily since Sunday, after government pressure led cable TV services to drop Radio Caracas Television International, which has long been a critic of Chavez's socialist policies.
"We are not going to allow continued shutdowns of media outlets that tell the truth, and we are not going to allow ineptitude and inefficiency to continue," said Nizar El Sakih, a student leader.
Critics of the government say Chavez is responsible for domestic problems ranging from double-digit inflation to violent crime to rolling power blackouts.
The government says RCTV was removed for refusing to comply with a new rule requiring media outlets to televise mandatory programming, including Chavez's speeches.
Chavez accused students of trying to stir up violence as a means of destabilizing his government.
"There are some attempting to set fire to the country," Chavez said in a televised address Thursday. "What are they seeking? Death."
He said unidentified assailants armed with assault rifles shot at National Guard troops Wednesday in the city of Merida, where two soldiers suffered gunshot wounds. A military barracks in the city of Barquisimeto was also attacked, he said.
Chavez vowed to crack down on street demonstrations that turn violent.
"We cannot permit this," he said. "The state and the government must impose authority."
Ten students were accused of fomenting public disorder Thursday in the eastern city of Barcelona - a day after they led protests that ended in clashes with police, Fortunato Herrera, a lawyer representing the students, told the local Globovision TV channel.
Student leader Jonathan Zambrano told Globovision that 22 protesters were arrested in the city of Barinas. The students were released, Zambrano said, after university groups agreed to call off street demonstrations.
Two youths were killed in Merida on Monday - a day after the protests began. Dozens of people have been injured during the week's demonstrations.