Venezuelan students have walked out of a debate in the country's National Assembly in protest of President Hugo Chavez's closure of a private television station (RCTV) often critical of the president.

On Thursday, congress organized a debate between anti-government students and student supporters of Mr. Chavez.

After the event got under way, a student leader of the protests, Yon Goicochea, complained that the debate was politicized. The protesting students abruptly left the Assembly.

Security forces escorted them from the building while onlookers, including the National Assembly's president Cilia Flores, shouted insults. They said the protesters were pawns of external forces.

Mr. Chavez's replacement of RCTV with a state-funded channel (Venezuelan Social Television) has prompted criticism from other countries, including the United States and Spain. Students have led protest marches in the streets of the capital, Caracas, for 11 days.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.