Rebels at­tack Venezue­lan fort

Two killed and seven ar­rested in thwarted up­ris­ing at mil­i­tary base, au­thor­i­ties say.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - BY MERY MOGOLLON AND CHRIS KRAUL Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dents Mogollon and Kraul re­ported from Cara­cas and Bo­gota, Colom­bia, re­spec­tively.

CARA­CAS, Venezuela — Venezue­lan au­thor­i­ties said armed forces suc­cess­fully put down an early morn­ing at­tack Sun­day by a group op­posed to Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro that tried to take over Ft. Para­macay in Va­len­cia.

Two were killed and seven ar­rested in the clash, au­thor­i­ties said.

There were no signs that the re­volt, which gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials de­scribed as a “ter­ror­ist at­tack,” had spread to other bases across the coun­try. Sev­eral army units were de­ployed in Cara­cas, the cap­i­tal, and in other cities as a se­cu­rity mea­sure.

Some of those in­volved in the up­ris­ing were ap­par­ently able to take con­trol of an ar­se­nal at the fort be­fore flee­ing the scene, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia.

Se­cu­rity forces were search­ing for an undis­closed num­ber of peo­ple who fled the fort. De­tails of the con­flict could not be in­de­pen­dently de­ter­mined.

The con­flict comes a day af­ter Maduro’s gov­ern­ment con­vened an as­sem­bly to re­write the na­tion’s con­sti­tu­tion. Crit­ics claim Maduro acted il­le­gally be­cause the body did not re­ceive pub­lic au­tho­riza­tion and say that it is de­signed to marginal­ize the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled Na­tional As­sem­bly.

Venezuela has been shaken by four months of protests over food scarci­ties, vi­o­lence and Maduro’s au­to­cratic gov­ern­ing style. The death toll from clashes be­tween pro­test­ers and au­thor­i­ties since March stands at 131, and thou­sands have been in­jured or ar­rested.

The clash Sun­day in­volved a group of about 20 peo­ple dressed in mil­i­tary uni­forms led by an of­fi­cer who iden­ti­fied him­self as Capt. Juan Caguar­i­pano. The group mem­bers is­sued a video over so­cial me­dia to an­nounce that they were in “le­git­i­mate re­bel­lion.”

“United now more than ever with the brave peo­ple of Venezuela, we re­pu­di­ate the mur­der­ous tyranny of Ni­co­las Maduro,” Caguar­i­pano said. “This is not a coup d’etat. This is a civic and mil­i­tary ac­tion to reestab­lish con­sti­tu­tional or­der.”

Maduro said on his weekly tele­vi­sion broad­cast that the group en­tered the base about 4 a.m. He said the up­ris­ing was led by a de­serter.

De­fense Min­is­ter Vladimir Padrino Lopez wrote on Twit­ter that the at­tack­ers were re­pulsed be­cause of the “spirit and con­sti­tu­tional con­science” of the armed forces.

Con­sti­tu­tional As­sem­bly Vice Pres­i­dent Dios­dado Ca­bello said on Twit­ter that there was “ab­so­lute nor­malcy” at other gov­ern­ment in­stal­la­tions.

Op­po­si­tion leader Hen­rique Capriles said at a news con­fer­ence that the at­tack demon­strated the frus­tra­tion Venezue­lans feel with the new con­sti­tu­tional as­sem­bly and other au­to­cratic mea­sures taken by the Maduro gov­ern­ment to neu­tral­ize the op­po­si­tion.

“What is com­ing with the new con­sti­tu­tion is only more hunger and more iso­la­tion for Venezuela,” said Capriles, gov­er­nor of Mi­randa state.

In April, Capriles was dis­qual­i­fied by the gov­ern­ment from run­ning for fu­ture of­fice for al­leged mis­man­age­ment of state fi­nances, a charge he de­nied. Capriles claimed it was a ma­neu­ver to elim­i­nate him from next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Also, op­po­si­tion leader Leopoldo Lopez was re­turned to house ar­rest af­ter hav­ing been seized from his res­i­dence last week and taken to a mil­i­tary prison. He had spent more than three years in prison fol­low­ing a con­vic­tion for in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence, a charge he de­nied, be­fore be­ing granted house ar­rest July 8.

Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

VENEZUE­LAN armed forces put down an at­tack by about 20 peo­ple in mil­i­tary uni­forms, of­fi­cials said.

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