February 22, 2014 at 1:00 am

Venezuela beauty queen mourned

Relatives and friends of Genesis Carmona carry floral arrangements during her funeral on Fridayin Valencia, Venezuela. (Rodrigo Abd / AP)

Valencia, Venezuela— A university student beauty queen was mourned Friday in the provincial Venezuelan city where she was slain this week during a political protest, a victim of what government opponents say is indiscriminate violence used by President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters to stifle dissent across the country.

Family members and friends of 22-year-old Genesis Carmona say the former Miss Tourism 2013 for the central Venezuelan state of Carabobo was shot down by members of the armed militias known as “colectivos” who opened fire on a demonstration in Valencia on Tuesday.

The government says the incident is under investigation but indicated she may have been shot by an opposition protester, a suggestion that drew scorn at the private Mass and graveside memorial attended by several hundred people.

“She wanted to support her country and, well, look what it cost her for going out with a flag and a whistle. Killed by government mercenaries,” said Jose Gil, an uncle of Carmona.

The violence drew condemnation Friday from U.S. based watchdog group Human Rights Watch, which said “Venezuelan security forces have used excessive and unlawful force against protesters on multiple occasions since February 12, 2014, including beating detainees and shooting at crowds of unarmed people.”

The report also said “the government has censored the news media, blocking transmission of a TV channel and threatening to prosecute news outlets for their coverage of the violence.”

The U.S. news channel CNN said Friday four of its journalists were notified by the Information Ministry that they are no longer allowed to report in the country.

Venezuelan policemen stand guard during the funeral of Genesis Carmona on ... (Rodrigo Abd / AP)