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2 Die as Venezuelan Troops End Attack on Military Base

By VOA News August 06, 2017

Venezuelan military leaders say they quickly put down an attack on a base in central Venezuela Sunday which President Nicolas Maduro called an act of terrorism by rebellious former soldiers.

Two of the attackers were killed, the president said.

An army officer calling himself Captain Juan Caguaripano posted a video on social media in which he was surrounded by more than a dozen soldiers. He declared himself to be in "legitimate rebellion" against what he calls Maduro's "murderous tyranny."

"We clarify this is not a coup d'etat. This is a civilian and military action to restore the constitutional order and, more than that, to save the country from total destruction," he declared.

Venezuelan military officials say troops rushed in to restore order at the Paramacay military base in Valencia. Locals reported hearing gunfire coming from behind the walls.

Maduro appeared on state-run television later to announce that two of the attackers were killed during the operation and eight rebels were arrested. Caguaripano's fate was unclear.

Official say Caguaripano is an army deserter backed by "right-wing extremists" and supported by unidentified foreign governments.

Venezuela's social and political turmoil worsened last week when the Maduro government swore in a hugely unpopular constituent assembly who plan to rewrite the constitution.

The government claims 8 million people voted in a July 30 election to choose its 545 members. The opposition says voter turnout was less than half that and pre-election polls showed 70 percent of Venezuelans opposed the assembly.

Maduro has said a new constitution will bring peace and stability. The opposition says the constituent assembly is packed with Maduro supporters – including his wife and son – and that it will break up the opposition-led national assembly and turn Venezuela into a socialist dictatorship.

The assembly has already made its first major move by firing Attorney General Luisa Ortega, a former Maduro ally turned vociferous opponent.

"Each step by the constituent assembly is a step towards the precipice by this government," the opposition's parliamentary president Julio Borges said Sunday. "The only thing it has left is brute force. This is not a strong government. It's a rotten government which is failing. The only thing it wants to do is to cling to power."

Opposition leaders have called for more anti-government protests. Four months of protests have often erupted into violence, leaving more than 120 people dead.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on Maduro and more could be on the way. The U.S., Canada, the European Union, and nearly every Latin American country have said they do not recognize the new constituent assembly.

The collapse in global energy prices along with government corruption have destroyed Venezuela's oil-rich economy. Gasoline, medicine, and staple foods are in extremely short supply.

Maduro is blaming his country's problems on what he calls U.S. imperialism. He has said many times he wants peace, but has refused offers of help from the Organization of American States. Maduro has said OAS intervention would start a civil war.

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