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Venezuela searches for rebels after deadly clash at army base


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Media captionArmy officers posted a video calling their move “a legitimate rebellion”

A search is under way in Venezuela for 10 men who escaped with weapons after an attack on a military base, President Nicolás Maduro says.

The assault in the north-western city of Valencia was carried out by 20 people, he said. Two were killed, one was injured and seven were arrested.

Earlier, a video posted on social media showed uniformed men saying they were rising against a “murderous tyranny”.

Despite the incident, the situation appears to be calm in the country.

On state television, Mr Maduro congratulated the army for its “immediate reaction” in putting down the attack in the early hours of Sunday, saying they had earned his “admiration.”

He called the incident a “terrorist attack” carried out by “mercenaries”, and said the security forces were actively searching for those who had escaped. “We’ll get them,” he vowed.


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Media captionThe week’s most powerful photos from Venezuela

Military vehicles were patrolling the streets in and around Valencia and at least one helicopter was being used in the operation.

The government said that those arrested included a first lieutenant who had deserted. It said the others were civilians wearing uniforms.

Mr Maduro said they had been backed by anti-government leaders based in the US and Colombia.

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Image caption Anti-government protesters gathered in Valencia

There were some demonstrations of support to the uprising in Valencia but they were dispersed with tear gas, witnesses said. Elsewhere in the country, the situation remained calm.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Security forces flew over Valencia on Sunday

In Sunday’s video, a rebel leader who identified himself as Juan Caguaripano, said that his group – which he called the 41st Brigade – was taking a stand against the “murderous tyranny of President Nicolás Maduro”.

“This is not a coup but a civil and military action to re-establish constitutional order.”

Violent demonstrations since April have left more than 100 people dead in the country which, despite being oil-rich, is experiencing severe shortages of food and medicines, as well as inflation in excess of 700%.

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Media captionYour video guide to the crisis gripping Venezuela

The move came the day after the first session of the newly inaugurated Constituent Assembly, seen by the opposition is a way for the left-wing president to cling to power.

But Mr Maduro has repeatedly said that the new body would bring peace to the country.

The Constituent Assembly has the ability to rewrite the constitution and could override the opposition-controlled parliament, the National Assembly.

On Saturday, it immediately voted to dismiss Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega, a former ally of President Maduro turned major critic.

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