Officials on hunt for suspect behind Venezuela helicopter attack

World Today

FILE – In this June 22, 2017 file photo, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro gives a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela. Maduro said a helicopter fired on Venezuela’s Supreme Court in a confusing incident that he claimed was part of a conspiracy to destabilize his socialist government, on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

In Venezuela, a manhunt is on for the rogue policeman officials said is behind a helicopter attack on the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Court. Officials are describing the attack in Caracas as an act of terror.

CGTN’S Stephen Gibbs reports.

Just as the sun was setting on Tuesday, this helicopter was seen flying over Caracas.

According the government, it was stolen by a rogue police officer and used to attack government buildings.

Grenades were allegedly dropped on the Supreme Court. Gunfire was aimed at the Ministry of Interior.

Moments later, suspect and pilot Oscar Perez issued this video statement on social media:

“Today, we have realized an air-ground deployment with the sole purpose of giving back the power to the democratic people, thus respecting and enforcing laws to restore constitutional order.”

Oscar Perez is an officer in the investigative branch of the Venezuelan police force. He is also a part time actor, who appears to revel in a quasi-James Bond persona.

But President Nicolas Maduro, appearing on state television hours after the attack, said that Perez is no hero. He is, said the President, a terrorist.

“I have activated the entire armed forces to defend the peace. And you can be assured that sooner or later, we are going to capture that helicopter and those that carried out this terror attack against the institutions of the country.”

But Venezuela’s opposition, which on Wednesday was holding a nationwide “sit in” has its suspicions about the entire story.

It suggests the whole saga was set up by the government to justify a clampdown against its opponents.

Who, ask the doubters, was Oscar Perez really working for?

One mystery may have been solved. The Venezuelan Vice President says the missing helicopter has been found in Vargas state, around 320 kilometers from the capital. But its pilot is still missing.

What is happening in Venezuela?

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CGTN’s Elaine Reyes talks to Professor Eduardo Gamarra of Florida International University about how the helicopter attack on government buildings in Caracas is likely to affect the July 30 referendum to establish a constituent assembly.