SEOUL, South Korea voiced deep regret Monday over civilian casualties caused by last week's violent clashes between Venezuelan government forces and activists striving to bring humanitarian aid into the Latin American country.

Seoul's foreign ministry renewed its calls for Venezuela to hold a "democratic, transparent and trustable" presidential election at an early date and reiterated its recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

News reports said that on Saturday, troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro fired tear gas and buckshot on protesters and activists pushing to deliver outside aid to the impoverished state in a standoff that left several people dead and hundreds of others injured.

Venezuela's embattled ruler, Maduro, is under growing pressure to step aside as the United States and a number of Western governments have thrown their support behind Guaido.

Maduro, who first took power in 2013, was re-elected to a second term last year, but controversies have persisted over the legitimacy of election results amid vote-rigging allegations and the reported oppression of opposition candidates.

Source: Yonhap news Agency