2 military officers arrested in Venezuela prez attack
Anadolu Agency: Two high-ranking military officers have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the drone attack on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro earlier this month, the country’s chief prosecutor said Tuesday.
“On Aug. 13, Col. Pedro Javier Zambrano Hernandez and General Alejandro Perez Gamez were brought before the courts … and deprived of their liberty”, Tarek Saad said in a televised news conference.
Saad said 14 people, including an opposition legislator, were currently detained linked to the Aug. 4 attack in Caracas where Maduro was giving a speech.
“As of today, there is a list of 34 suspects linked to the attack. Twenty have not been apprehended yet as they live abroad,” Saad added.
Opposition leader Julio Borges, who flew to Columbia after a failed attempt at negotiating with Maduro’s government, was put under an arrest warrant as authorities claim he is the “brains” behind the attack.
Maduro, who escaped unharmed from the explosions, blamed “far right-wing factions” for the attack, saying the perpetrators were linked to Colombia and the United States. Both countries have denied the allegations, with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton suggesting it could have been “a lot of things, including a pretext set up by the regime itself.”
Opponents fear Maduro’s government will use the attack, described as a “coup attempt”, to further crack down on the opposition and purge security forces.
Maduro accused members of the military on various occasions of trying to undermine his regime.
According to Venezuelan independent news outlet Runrun.es, Maduro also suggested during a meeting with military leadership Aug. 11 that members of armed forces might “be careful to distance themselves of family members siding with the opposition before they lose their careers due to carelessness.
“I will be very strict on that and will not have the regime infiltrated,” Maduro was quoted as saying.
A group calling itself Soldiers in T-shirts claimed responsibility for the attack through social media.
In June 2017, former police officer Oscar Perez hijacked a police helicopter and attacked the Supreme Court and Interior Ministry premises with hand grenades.