Prominent Venezuelan Rebel Might Be Dead Or In Custody After Shootout
17 January, 2018, 02:09
Nestor Reverol, minister of the interior, justice and peace, did not provide details on the death of Perez, who a year ago said he belonged to a coalition of military, police and civil officials "who oppose this criminal government".
"Some political leaders gave us information on where to find the terrorist cell", Reverol said.
The group was led by former police officer Oscar Perez who clashed with public security forces in Junquito, a mountainous community in northern Miranda state, along with an undetermined number of group members who were heavily armed, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The former cop achieved worldwide infamy after staging an attack on the Venezuelan Supreme Court in June 2017, for which he stole a police helicopter and dropped grenades on the court.
The Colombian government has not responded to Maduro's charges. Gunshots were heard in the background.
"I want to ask Venezuela not to lose heart - fight, take to the streets", he said. He took credit for commandeering a helicopter to drop grenades on the Supreme Court building and fire rounds at the Interior Ministry.
In December, Perez posted videos showing him and a small armed band taking over a military outpost and smashing a portrait of Maduro with his foot.
'What a coward now that he's caught like a rat!' tweeted Prisons Minister Iris Varela. "Where is the courage he had to attack military units, kill and injure officials and steal weapons?"
He rose to fame in June after allegedly hijacking a police helicopter, flying over Caracas' centre and firing shots at and lobbing grenades on the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Court. From their helicopter in June, Perez and his accomplices hung a banner reading "350 Libertad"-meaning "350 Freedom" in Spanish-a reference to the Venezuelan constitution's 350th article of the Venezuelan Constitution, which allows for disobedience to a regime that violates democratic values".
He went into hiding afterwards, only to pop up two weeks later at an opposition vigil for anti-government protesters killed during demonstrations that rocked the country previous year.
In videos posted on his social media account, Perez had described himself as a "nationalist" and "patriot".
They smash photos of Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, handcuff around a dozen soldiers and berate them for supporting "dictatorship" in Venezuela.
Perez says his team stole about 26 AK-103's and more than 3,000 munitions for the rifles, as well as pistols. "We demand that Mr Oscar Perez' right to life be respected".
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