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A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back to police during clashes while rallying against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello

(reuters_tickers)

By Eyanir Chinea

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday he had ordered an investigation of mobile phone operator Movistar, a unit of Spain's Telefonica SA, for allegedly sending mass messages calling for protests against his leftist government.

The country is undergoing a wave of anti-government unrest, with the opposition holding what it called the "mother of all marches" on Wednesday.

The government said those taking to the streets were "terrorists" who were plotting to oust the president in a coup.

Maduro said in a televised address on Thursday evening that Movistar received money from the opposition to send out information about the march.

"I denounce (Movistar) and have asked for an investigation," said Maduro.

"They joined the call for a coup against the country."

Maduro said Movistar sent millions of messages to users of its popular network, costing more than $100 million.

The company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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