Venezuelan opposition decries security forces as ′state terrorists′ following raid | News | DW | 15.06.2017
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Venezuelan opposition decries security forces as 'state terrorists' following raid

Lawmakers from Venezuela's opposition have denounced government security forces for using excessive force during a raid on an apartment complex in the capital. Nearly two dozen people were arrested in the raid.

Opposition lawmakers in Venezuela on Wednesday slammed the actions of security forces during a raid on an apartment complex in the country's capital allegedly used by anti-government militants.

Video footage published online showed an armored truck smash through the gates of the middle-class complex in Caracas before police allegedly fired weapons, destroyed elevators and broke doors and windows.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that 23 people were arrested in the raid. The suspects are alleged to have been involved in attacks on security forces in recent weeks, as political upheaval and violence has rumbled on in Venezuela.

"These subjects were involved in violent acts in which several officials were injured by gunfire," Reverol said.

However, witnesses at the Los Verdes complex reported that security forces had smashed dozens of car windows and broken at least 12 elevators inside the complex, which houses some 4,500 people. One resident even said that police had shot her dog in the eye.

Read more: 5 things to understand about oil-rich, cash-poor Venezuela

Venezuela's opposition said the raids amounted to "state terrorism," while one opposition lawmaker described the security forces as "mafia criminals armed by the government."

Venezuela - smashed car - Caracas protests (Reuters/I. Alvarado)

Police reportedly smashed car windows

The Los Verdes complex where the raid took place has been the scene of near nightly clashes since anti-government protests broke out two months ago.

Widespread turmoil

Venezuela has been in a state of political upheaval since the beginning of April. Anti-government protesters blame President Nicolas Maduro for the oil-rich country's soaring inflation, food and medicine shortages, and rising crime rates.

Maduro and his supporters, in their turn, have accused protesters of attempting to foment a coup beneath pro-democracy rhetoric.

The president has plans to hold elections for the National Assembly on July 30 in a bid to revamp the country's constitution. Critics are determined to stop the vote, alleging that the elections are merely an attempt by Maduro to shape the assembly in his favor and ultimately dissolve the opposition-controlled body.

At least 68 people have died since Venezuela descended into political chaos - a rate of roughly one death per day.

US mulls further economic sanctions

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump's administration said it was considering sanctions against a new list of Venezuelan officials.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that his office was working in cooperation with the US Treasury Department on compiling "a very robust list of individuals" accused of aggravating the violent protests.

Tillerson declined to reveal the names of the officials on the list.

This year the US has already slapped sanctions against eight justices at Venezuela's Supreme Court, as well as Vice President Tareck El Aissami.

dm/tj (Reuters, AP)

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