The White House threw its weight behind an unsanctioned opposition-organised vote in Venezuela, saying it provided an "unmistakable statement" in condemnation of the embattled ruling regime.

"We congratulate the Venezuelan people for the huge turnout in the referendum yesterday," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

He added: "We condemn the violence inflicted by government thugs against innocent voters."

The opposition-organised ballot saw more than seven million of Venezuela's 19 million voters cast their vote, overwhelmingly against President Nicolas Maduro and his plans to rewrite the country's constitution.

Venezuelan nationals living in Ireland queued to cast their ballots at a centre in Tallaght, Dublin yesterday.

Venezuela "sent a clear message to the national executive and the world," announced the president of the Central University of Venezuela, Cecilia Garcia Arocha, noting that 6,492,381 voted in the country and 693,789 abroad.

Venezuela's opposition called a 24-hour nationwide strike for Thursday.

The plans for a stoppage and a "massive protest" was announced by one of the opposition's leaders, Freddy Guevara.

Armed men on motorbikes killed a woman and wounded three people in Caracas yesterday when they fired on people voting.

The attack in the working class neighbourhood of Catia isbeing investigated, the public ministry said in a statement.

Delegates and volunteers, many dressed in white, manned tents and tables at about 14,300 polling stations nationwide.

Authorities have refused to approve a vote that has been presented as an act of civil disobedience and supporters of Mr Maduro boycotted it.

The vote is not binding because it lacks the backing of the National Electoral Council.

But voters seemed set to reject the president's controversial plan for a separate referendum in two weeks to elect a citizens' body to revise the constitution.

The opposition has told its supporters to stay away from the Maduro-backed vote on 30 July.

Opposition leaders such as Henrique Capriles were expecting 11 million people to participate in the vote, which was intended to increase pressure to remove Mr Maduro from power before his term ends in January 2019.

The rival votes have given rise to international worries - voiced by the Catholic Church and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres - that the chances of bringing both sides together for dialogue have become more remote.

That in turn is stoking fears of more protests and running street battles with police. Clashes have cost the lives of nearly 100 people since the beginning of April.

Mr Maduro portrayed the vote as merely an "internal consultation by the opposition parties" with no electoral legitimacy.

However he also urged Venezuelans to "participate peacefully".