Venezuela army repels attack on base, hunts assailants

A search is under way in Venezuela for 10 men who escaped with weapons after an attack on a military base

Live footage from residential buildings facing the Paramacay base showed military and civilian helicopters flying low over wooded areas
Live footage from residential buildings facing the Paramacay base showed military and civilian helicopters flying low over wooded areas

A small group of men staged a pre-dawn assault on an army base in Venezuela on Sunday, making off with weapons and declaring themselves in rebellion against the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

According to officials, around 20 men were involved in the assault, led by an army officer who had deserted battled troops in the base in the third city of Valencia for three hours early Sunday.

The raid ended with two of the attackers being killed and eight captured, Maduro said on state television.

The other 10 escaped with weapons taken from the facility, according to officials who said an "intense search" was underway for them.

Maduro claimed the "terrorist" group had ties to Colombia and the United States.

Live footage from residential buildings facing the Paramacay base showed military and civilian helicopters flying low over wooded areas for much of the morning. Detonations were heard in the distance.

Gen Suárez Chourio, the army chief, said in a video statement the attackers had been “detained and defeated” and that “peace has triumphed”.

However, Capt Juan Caguaripano, the apparent leader of the rebellion, said on Twitter “the objectives were achieved satisfactorily in coalition with comrades of different components of the armed forces”.

Early on Sunday, Caguaripano launched a video on social media in which he declared a rebellion against the government.

The incident heightened fears that Venezuela's deepening political and economic crisis could explode into greater violence, perhaps open armed conflict.

Maduro’s socialist government has come under widespread condemnation for moves seen as attempts to strengthen its grip on power.

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