Caracas, Jul 10 (EFE).- Four police officers were killed and 22 suspects “neutralized” in the course of a massive, days-long law enforcement operation in Caracas, Venezuela’s interior minister said Saturday.
Several “innocent people” also died and 28 others were wounded over nearly 72 hours of violence on the west side of the capital, Carmen Melendez told a press conference.
Venezuelan authorities typically use the term “neutralized” to refer both to the apprehension of a suspect and to the death of an offender in a confrontation with police.
In that regard, the interior minister said only that three accused murderers known as “Calvin,” “Torta” and “Chino” were killed.
More than 3,100 officers from various law enforcement agencies took part in the operation launched in response to a spate of attacks Wednesday by armed gangs on various installations of the security forces, she said.
The targets of the attacks, which coincided with a military academy graduation ceremony attended by President Nicolas Maduro, included the headquarters of the intelligence service and a police precinct that lives under “permanent siege,” Melendez said.
The operation led to the liberation of nine kidnapping victims and the confiscation of a “war arsenal” stocked with machine-gun ammunition and heavy ordnance, she said.
Melendez was joined at the news briefing by Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, who said that three Colombian paramilitaries were captured along with weapons from Colombia and the United States.
The “penetration” of Caracas by Colombian paramilitary groups “has been dismantled” thanks to the work of the security forces “with support from social intelligence,” she said.
The paramilitaries provided arms to gangs in the capital, Rodriguez said, adding that the three Colombian prisoners were giving statements to prosecutors.
Relations between Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in Latin America, and leftist-governed Venezuela have been strained for years. EFE