Venezuela Captures Rebels Led by Rogue Helicopter Pilot

Oscar Perez may have died in shootout
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2018 12:01 AM CST
Venezuela Captures Rebels Led by Rogue Helicopter Pilot
In this July 13, 2017 photo, Oscar Perez speaks to the press at a vigil to honor more than 90 people killed during three months of anti-government protests, in Caracas, Venezuela.   (AP Photo/Miguel Rodriguez, File)

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 last year, officials say. It wasn't clear if the renegade officer, Oscar Perez, had been killed or captured in a deadly gun battle after more than six months on the lam, the AP reports. Two officers were killed and five seriously wounded during a shootout with Perez and his comrades, the Ministry of Interior Relations said in a statement. "The members of this terrorist cell who conducted armed resistance were taken down and five criminals captured and detained," the statement said.

President Nicolas Maduro in a televised address Monday night claimed the group was preparing a car bomb to use against an embassy. Earlier Monday, Perez, 36, posted video clips showing blood dripping across his face as gunshots rang in the background. Perez said officers were firing at the group and wanted to kill him instead of permitting his surrender. "We're going to turn ourselves in!" Perez shouted. In the video clips, he urged Venezuelans to fight against the socialist government. "I want to ask Venezuela not to lose heart—fight, take to the streets," he said. "It is time for us to be free, and only you have the power now." In numerous videos posted on Instagram, Perez has claimed that he is fighting for Venezuela's freedom from a tyrannical government that is starving its people.

(Read more Venezuela stories.)

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