Venezuela's attorney general said that 39 people have now been killed in protests against the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro since Feb. 12.

"We have 39 fatalites from acts of violence...31 were civilians and eight were police and military personnel," Luisa Ortega told a press conference.

The civilian fatalities include both opponents and supporters of the government.

The number of injured stands at 608, of whom 414 are civilians and 194 are government employees, she said.

Ortega said the AG's office has opened dozens of criminal investigations to determine responsibility for the deaths and injuries.

Seventeen of the 192 people being held in connection with the violence are members of the security forces, she said.

The AG's office announced earlier Friday that opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez was being formally charged with criminal conspiracy and incitement to violence.

Lopez surrendered to authorities on Feb. 18 during a massive demonstration, after being charged by Maduro for the clash at the end of a peaceful march on Feb. 12 that left three people dead.

The government called for peace talks and asked the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, to send a mission to the country to help resolve the crisis.

The Unasur mission of foreign ministers visited Venezuela last week and issued a series of recommendations, and plans to return next Monday to continue working toward a dialogue, which could count on mediation by the Vatican. EFE