Venezuelan helicopter pilot killed in police raid

Frederick Owens
January 17, 2018

CARACAS, Venezuela-Venezuelan special forces on Monday captured five members of a band led by a rebellious police officer who has been on the run since stealing a helicopter and launching grenades at government buildings in the capital previous year, officials said.

He has been described by officials of President Nicolas Maduro's government as a deserter, but others opposed to the government see him as a symbol of anti-government resistance and refer to him as "Rambo".

"In the face of an attack that put the lives of security officials at risk, the attacking group was neutralized using established protocols, with the unfortunate result of seven dead terrorists", Reverol said in a televised broadcast.

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

In one of almost a dozen video clips, a visibly bloodied Perez said security forces had ignored the rebel band's pleas to hand themselves in.

Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday announced the death of a rebel group leader, a pilot known as "Rambo" and the subject of an intense manhunt since June when he hijacked a government helicopter and hurled grenades at the Supreme Court. There were no casualties.

"Venezuela, don't lose hope".

"We speak to you on behalf of the state". Authorities have not released the names of those killed or captured.

Eventually, the protests fizzled out and the socialist president prevailed, despite a staggering crisis caused by falling oil prices, spiraling inflation and corruption.

It said those who resisted had been killed.

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Perez claimed that he was fighting for Venezuela's freedom from a government that is starving its people.

AFP journalists trying to reach the area saw an army tank, special forces and ambulances rush to the scene.

Venezuelan police officer Oscar Perez participates in an anti-government protest in Caracas on July 13, 2017.

In another video, a bloodied Perez said, "They are firing at us with grenade launchers".

"Our troops were attacked while we were negotiating the surrender of the terrorist cell".

He said they were being besieged by snipers.

"It is better to go out and fight for a new future than to die kneeling to this regime", Perez said in an interview with CNN en Español that aired Friday. He garnered tens of thousands of followers online and has piqued the curiosity of Venezuelans who either hail him as hero, condemn him as a criminal or question if he might be a ruse to support Maduro's assertion that the nation is under attack by opposition conspirators.

In Monday's operation, two police officers were killed and five officials were injured in the exchange of gunfire.

"What a coward now that he's caught like a rat!" tweeted Prisons Minister Iris Varela.

Perez, a sometime actor and model, was an inspector with a police intelligence agency known by the initials CICPC, the Venezuelan equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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