Venezuela forces searching for 'mercenaries' after attack — Maduro

Holy See to Venezuela: Focus on Alleviating Humanitarian Crisis

A week after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro consolidated his power following an internationally criticized referendum, armed rebels attacked a military base in the northern city of Valencia.

"We'll get them", he vowed.

Hours before the attack began, a video was posted to social media showing a group of uniformed men declaring themselves against Maduro's "murderous tyranny". "Fort Paramacay", Maduro said during a televised address on Sunday.

"This is not a coup d'etat", the man said.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini's office said Monday that the assembly's actions and removal of Luisa Ortega Diaz "have further weakened the prospects for a peaceful return to the democratic order".

Roughly 20 armed men, dressed in camouflage, carried out a surprise assault on a military base Sunday morning, according to the BBC. The intruders managed to reach the base's weapons depot before an alarm sounded, alerting troops to the incursion. He said 10 of the invaders fled, some carrying off arms, while those left behind exchanged gunfire with soldiers until about 8 a.m. before all were either killed or captured.

"Today we had to defeat terrorism with bullets", Maduro said. Other protests also emerged spontaneously around Valencia into the afternoon.

More than 100 people have died in clashes between security forces, and protesters and more than 500 people have been detained, reports the AP.

Defence minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said the men were civilians dressed in uniforms, and that the man who recorded the video was a former officer, who was sacked three years ago.

The leader of the alleged coup attempt in Valencia was identified as Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former captain in the national guard who was cashiered in 2014 after making public declarations against the government.




"That bill was paid for from Miami and Colombia"(.) "He who lead the attack is a deserter who has lived in Miami" (.) the Head of State denounced in his radio-TV program "Sundays with Maduro".

The president of Venezuela has called for anti-government fighters who attacked an army base to receive the "maximum penalty". Neither provided specific details on how they had come to that conclusion. He said that some attackers were still on the run, including the ringleader.

Venezuelans view the armed forces as the key power broker in their country، and opposition leaders have repeatedly exhorted the military to break with Maduro over what they call his erosion of democracy and brutality toward demonstrators.

But the President is believed to still have the military's support, which he and his predecessor Mr Chavez worked hard to shore up.

As the opposition did not field any candidates, the constituent assembly is dominated by government loyalists who showed their allegiance by waving pictures of former President Hugo Chávez at their inauguration.

As with the latest uprising, most manifestations of dissent among troops have been small and isolated thus far.

The new assembly, whose powers supersede all other branches of government, voted to remove the nation's outspoken chief prosecutor on Saturday.

Her successor has promised to crack down on the demonstrations, but Ms Ortega has rejected her removal as illegal, saying she still considers herself the country's top prosecutor. She was replaced by a pro-regime figure recently added to the list of USA sanctions.

The military commanders have maintained loyalty to Maduro, with Padrino claiming defense of the Constitution, even after the denunciations of a possible fraud in the elections of July 30th, in which the members of the Constituent Assembly were chosen.

Maduro said the assembly is considering creating a law against "hate, intolerance and fascism" that would immediately punish those responsible for the current upheaval.

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