Rogue Venezuelan policeman Oscar Perez, who sensationally attacked the country's Supreme Court last summer, has reappeared. An online video reportedly shows him taking part in a takeover of a military station.
Oscar Perez, a well-known renegade policeman and part-time action film star, claimed late on Tuesday to be behind an apparent takeover of a military station outside the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. Twenty-six Kalashnikov assault rifles and over 3,000 round of munitions were allegedly stolen in the heist.
A video uploaded to Perez's Twitter account appeared to show the former policeman and a group of other armed assailants handcuff a group of troops and round them up in a small room. "You yourselves are dying of hunger. Why have you not done anything, given you have weapons? Why do you keep protecting these drug-trafficking dictators?" the assailants shout at the soldiers.
The attackers then go on to smash photos of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.
Perez said on his Twitter that he had led "an impeccable tactical operation in which we recovered these weapons of the people, for the people."
The man behind the Supreme Court helicopter attack
After Perez uploaded the video of himself storming the National Guard quarters, Maduro gave a speech on state television in which he labeled the attackers as "terrorists" sent by the United States. However, the president did not mention Perez by name or offer any details as to who may have been behind the attack.
Perez, who presents himself as a Rambo-type figure on social media, gained notoriety in June after he and a group of assailants flung grenades into the Venezuelan Supreme Court from a stolen police helicopter. The men later shot at the interior ministry, without causing casualties.
Maduro subsequently issued an Interpol alert for Perez' arrest, who went underground. The former policeman had not been seen publicly since, except briefly in July at a vigil for an anti-government protester killed during last summer's protests.
Discontent among Venezuela's security forces
In a country gripped by economic hardship and a dwindling supply of basic goods, the Maduro government has largely been able to retain power by keeping the top military brass on his side.
Read more: What is going on in Venezuela?
According to critics, juicy government contracts, corruption and contraband are just some of the reasons many top military officials want Maduro to remain in office. Others fear persecution should the political opposition ever take power.
However, Perez's actions are seen by many as a sign of widening of government discontent among Venezuela's security forces, many of whom are paid just a handful of small US dollars each month.
dm/jil (Reuters, AFP, AP)