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Venezuela detains 18 over military base attack

August 14, 2017

Venezuelan authorities have detained a group of soldiers and civilians and recovered some of the weapons stolen in the recent attack on an army base. Officials said that one of the fugitive suspects was living in Miami.

Soldiers with a tank stop a car in Valencia
Image: picture alliance/AP/J. C. Hernandez

Security forces are still searching for 23 people over the deadly attack, in addition to 18 suspects who have already been detained, the country's intelligence chief Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez said on Sunday.

Venezuelan officials believe that the suspects were involved in a raid on a military compound in the city of Valencia a week ago when 20 attackers broke into the base and stole a large amount of weapons. The soldiers at the site killed two assailants and detained eight. The rest managed to flee, according to the authorities.

Read more: What is going on in Venezuela?

Commenting on the August 6 incident in his Sunday speech, Lopez said that six military deserters and other former soldiers took part in the "terrorist" attack. A former National Guard captain Juan Carlos Caguaripano Scott allegedly served as the ringleader of the attack. Caguaripano previously appeared in an online video with a group of armed men urging a rebellion against the "murderous tyranny" of President Nicolas Maduro.

Authorities arrested the 38-year-old former soldier in Caracas a few days after the raid.

Weapons found

General Lopez, who leads the Venezuelan intelligence agency SEBIN, said that the authorities recovered  21 assault rifles, three grenade launchers, pistols, ammunition and military uniforms, presumably from the looted weapons cache. A bank account "used to support terrorist structures" had been frozen, he added.

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The SEBIN chief linked the attack to the Venezuelan opposition, currently locked in a bitter power struggle with the Maduro administration. Previously, the government accused the US of helping the anti-Maduro forces.

Lopez also said that the Interpol had issued arrest warrants for several anti-government plotters, including a journalist living in the US city of Miami. 

Read more: Trump says military option for Venezuela is on the table

Over 120 people have died since the latest round of anti-government protests started in April.

dj/jm (AFP, Reuters)