Gun battle in operation to arrest Venezuela’s pilot

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Venezuela’s pilot, Mr. Oscar Perez

A fierce gun battle ensued in an operation to capture Mr. Oscar Perez, a helicopter pilot who bombed Venezuela’s Supreme Court during anti-government protests last year.

Several people, including two police officers were killed, in operation, the interior ministry said Monday.

A statement said members of a “terrorist cell” were killed in the gunbattle, and five were captured, but did not say whether the pilot, was among the dead or detained.

Six police were wounded, President Nicolas Maduro told lawmakers.

The cell had planned to set off a car bomb outside the embassy of “a beloved and prestigious country,” Maduro said.

Reports said Perez and associates were holed up for hours in a house 25 kilometers northwest of Caracas during the raid.

Perez released videos on Instagram in which he said authorities were trying to kill him and his people even though they wanted to surrender.

Press reports said Perez did in fact die in the raid.

At the height of street protests against Maduro last June, Perez and unidentified accomplices flew over Caracas in a police helicopter and dropped four grenades on the Supreme Court before opening fire on the interior ministry. There were no casualties.

Perez has been on the run since Venezuelan authorities issued an arrest warrant through Interpol after accusing him of a “terrorist attack.”

The 36-year-old former elite police officer and actor has regularly taunted the government during his time in hiding, saying he was fighting against Maduro’s “tyranny” and the “narco-dictatorship.”

He urged Venezuelans “not to lose heart. Fight, take to the streets, it is time we are free.”

Members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) patrol Caracas as an operation to capture Oscar Perez, the Venezuelan helicopter pilot who dropped grenades on the Supreme Court last year during anti-government protests, is carried out on January 15, 2018

Two weeks after the attack on the Supreme Court, Perez — at the time Venezuela’s most-wanted man — turned up at a Caracas ceremony to commemorate those who had died in the wave of anti-government protests.


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