Caracas: The US has ordered the removal of its non-essential diplomatic staff from Venezuela after President Nicolas Maduro gave them 72 hours to leave amid a political crisis.
In a security alert on Thursday night, the US State Department also recommended that Americans residing or travelling in Venezuela "strongly consider departing" while commercial flights remained available, reports Efe news.
For those US citizens who choose to stay in the country, the government recommended "ensure you have adequate supplies to shelter in place". The US Embassy in Caracas said it will remain open for a few hours at "limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Venezuela".
The development comes after Maduro earlier on Thursday reiterated his decision "with firmness" to break diplomatic and political relations "with the imperialist government of Trump, and expel all his diplomatic personnel" from Venezuela following his US counterpart's official recognition of Juan Guaido as the legitimate President of Venezuela.
"They have until Sunday ... to leave Venezuela. To get out of Venezuela", said Maduro, who also ordered the closure of the Venezuelan embassy and all of his country's consulates in the US.
Protests both for and against Maduro's government broke out following Guaido's declaration of himself as the President on Tuesday. That announcement came a day after dozens of troops from the Venezuelan National Guard rebelled against Maduro.
Around a dozen demonstrations took place on Monday calling for a resolution to the severe economic and political crisis which has plagued the country for years, with opposition protesters demanding an end to Maduro's alleged usurpation of power.
Venezuela, an oil-rich country that has been hammered by lower global oil prices and economic sanctions imposed by the US, has been in recession for nearly all of Maduro's time in office. He took over after predecessor Hugo Chavez's death in 2013.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled their homeland amid food and medicine shortages and hyper-inflation.(IANS)
Also Read: George Soros Uses WEF To Slam Xi Jinping