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6 Aug, 2017 16:31

2 killed, 8 captured in foiled ‘terrorist attack’ on Venezuelan army base – Maduro

At least two fighters have been killed and eight others captured after a group of armed men in military uniforms stormed a Venezuelan army base, president Nicolas Maduro announced, calling the attack an act of “terrorism.”

At 4:30am, a group of 20 armed men stormed the Paramacay military base in the city of Valencia. The insurgents managed to reach the weapons depot before the alarm alerted the troops, sparking a fierce gun battle.

“Today we had to defeat terrorism with bullets,” Maduro announced on state television, claiming that the attack was “paid for by Miami and Colombia,” where large Venezuelan expat communities reside.

The news of the attack came shortly after footage was released on social media, showing a group of men in military uniforms. The video also showed a man who identified himself as Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former National Guard captain, who called for an uprising against the government and demanding the “immediate formation of a transition government.”

After an intense battle that lasted for over three hours, the troops killed 2 militants, wound another, and capture seven more armed men, Maduro said.

The military is now searching for the remaining ten attackers who managed to escape.

“We know where they are headed and all of our military and police force is deployed,” Maduro said, according to AP, vowing to ask for “the maximum penalty for those who participated in this terrorist attack.”

Venezuela's defense minister described the attackers as a “paramilitary” expedition of civilians dressed in uniforms. While failing to identify those killed or captured, Vladimir Padrino Lopez did reveal that one of the attackers was a lieutenant who had deserted.

Commenting on Caguaripano’s call to action video that widely circulated on social media, Lopez said he was a former officer who was discharged three years ago after “being charged with rebellion and betraying the homeland.”

He claimed the attackers were recruited by “right-wing extremists” working for certain foreign governments.

“Today’s terrorist attack is no more than a propaganda show,” Lopez said.

Sunday’s incident comes amid ongoing and escalating tensions in the country.

Venezuela's crisis entered a new phase after the inauguration of the Constituent Assembly (CA), which during its first order of business Saturday, dismissed from office the main opposition figure and Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega.

The formation of the new assembly comes against a backdrop of violent street protests and clashes which has claimed over 150 lives over recent months. The CA has been widely criticized by opposition figures who say it is aimed at stripping them of power. Meanwhile, the US government targeted several senior Venezuelan officials with economic sanctions which president Maduro called "illegal, insolent and unprecedented."