Venezuela's Maduro gives ultimatum to Caracas protesters

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Venezuela's Maduro gives ultimatum to Caracas protesters
Demonstrators clash with the police during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators clash with members of the national guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators clash with members of the national guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators clash with members of the national guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators clash with members of the national guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
A demonstrator clashes with members of the national guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
A demonstrator clashes with members of the national guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
Students clash with riot police as they protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/LEO RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman walks past riot policemen as they prepare to clash with students during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 15, 2014, next to a graffiti reading 'National rebirth'. Hundreds of supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staged a colorful rally in the Venezuelan capital Saturday, as opponents called for more protests from their side. AFP PHOTO/LEO RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro waves to supporters during a march in honor of Venezuela's Army and National Guard, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, March 15, 2014. The Venezuelan government is stepping up security operations in Caracas and other cities where demonstrators are blocking streets, avenues and highways. Maduro said that those involved in creating road barricades will be arrested. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
A demonstrator puts on a rosary over his head before clashing with the Bolivarian National Guard, during anti-government protests in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 14, 2014. The Venezuelan government is stepping up security operations in Caracas and other cities where demonstrators are blocking streets, avenues and highways. President Nicolas Maduro said that those involved in creating road barricades will be arrested. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra)
A student of Venezuela's Central University (UCV), shouts slogans against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. According to local authorities, several deaths have been reported Wednesday, and a number of others, including National Guardsmen, have been wounded after being shot by unknown assailants in separate incidents in the central Venezuelan city of Valencia. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Demonstrators kick back a tear gas canister fired by Bolivarian National Police during clashes at an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. According to local authorities, several deaths have been reported Wednesday, and a number of others, including National Guardsmen, have been wounded after being shot by unknown assailants in separate incidents in the central Venezuelan city of Valencia. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A demonstrator launches marbles with a slingshot towards Bolivarian National Police officers during clashes at an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. According to local authorities, several deaths have been reported Wednesday, and a number of others, including National Guardsmen, have been wounded after being shot by unknown assailants in separate incidents in the central Venezuelan city of Valencia. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, hurls back a tear gas canister fired by Bolivarian National Police during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, March 15, 2014. Anti-government street protests by Venezuelans fed up with soaring inflation, violent crime and shortages of basic items such as flour and cooking oil have roiled Venezuela for more than a month. The Venezuelan government says at least 25 people have died in the turmoil since Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
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(Reuters) - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro warned protesters in Caracas on Saturday to clear a square they have made their stronghold, or face eviction by security forces.

Plaza Altamira, in upscale east Caracas, has been a focus of anti-government protests and violence during six weeks of unrest around Venezuela that has killed 28 people.

"I'm giving the Chuckys, the killers, just a few hours," Maduro said, using the name of a murderous child-doll in a horror film to describe anti-government demonstrators who have made the normally genteel 1940s square a base of operations.

"If they don't retreat, I'm going to liberate those spaces with the security forces," Maduro added. "They have a few hours to go home ... Chuckys, get ready, we're coming for you."

Students and other protesters have been using the square, in the pro-opposition Chacao district of Caracas, as a rallying point since a wave of protests started to gather steam in mid-February.

Most nights around dusk, a hard core of several hundred demonstrators has been fighting police and army lines there, in an attempt to access a nearby highway and block traffic.

On Friday night, for example, security forces used water cannon and teargas in a battle against protesters using stones and petrol bombs, Reuters witnesses said.

At least a dozen people were arrested, and the noise of the fighting echoed across east Caracas for several hours.

In a speech at a military rally, Maduro also alleged that right-wingers in the State Department and Pentagon were recommending extreme measures against the Venezuela government, including economic sanctions and even his assassination.

"President (Barack) Obama, if this message reaches you, you should know that it would be the worst mistake of your life to sign the authorization of the assassination of President Nicolas Maduro," he said in a high-octane speech recalling his predecessor Hugo Chavez's spats with the United States.

The U.S. government says Maduro, like Chavez, is inventing "imperialist" threats to distract Venezuelans' attention from their domestic political divisions and economic problems.

But U.S. antipathy to the Socialist government has been in evidence since the start of Chavez's 1999-2013 rule, not least in Washington's quick recognition of a brief 2002 coup against him.

Chavez died from cancer last year, with his protege Maduro, a 51-year-old former bus driver, winning a vote to replace him.

As well as the 28 deaths, including supporters of both sides and members of the security forces, more than 300 people have been injured in Venezuela's worst unrest in a decade.

More than 1,500 people have been arrested, of whom about 100 are still in jail. They include 21 security officials accused of using excess force.

Maduro says he has seen off a "coup" attempt, and he does not look in danger of being toppled by a "Venezuelan Spring," with the military apparently still behind him.

But a radical rump of students and hardline political leaders are vowing to stay in the streets until Maduro goes. They were planning a march in Caracas on Sunday to protest the presence of Cuban advisers for Venezuela's armed forces.

As dusk fell on Saturday, there were only a handful of protesters in Altamira Square, but some demonstrators were starting to put up barricades of rubbish on other streets in the zone.

(editing by Gunna Dickson)

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