CARACAS – Venezuelan authorities broke up on Monday the group headed by police officer Oscar Perez, who is accused of staging a “terrorist attack” on the Supreme Court, in an operation in which at least five members of the group died, the Interior Ministry announced.
“The members of this terrorist cell who engaged in armed resistance were killed and five criminals were captured and arrested,” the Venezuelan government said on state-run VTV television.
Two police officers also died in the operation and five others were “seriously wounded,” according to the government communique.
The statement, which provided no further details about the people arrested or the members of the group who were killed, said that the officers who died were “treacherously attacked” by the group.
“They were strongly dug in with high-caliber weaponry ... (and) opened fire on the officers tasked with their capture and tried to blow up a vehicle loaded with explosives,” said the Interior Ministry, adding that the group was planning to detonate “car bombs in public places.”
Perez, who became publicly known in July 2017 when, amid anti-government protests, dropped several grenades – the government said – from a police helicopter onto two government buildings in Caracas, reported on Monday morning that the authorities had located him after more than six months on the run.
He posted a series of videos on Instagram in which he said that the authorities had him and the group of people accompanying him surrounded.
In several of the videos, Perez said that he wanted to surrender, but he said that the police had not stopped firing on him and the group despite his willingness to give up.
In his last video, Perez can be seen with smudges or stains – apparently blood – on his face and shouting “We’re going to give up, stop shooting!”
Perez said in the last video that some members of his group had been wounded.
In other videos, he said that the security forces told him that they wanted to kill him and that they didn’t want him to surrender. He also addressed his children to tell them that what he had done was for them and for “all the children” in Venezuela.
He also called for humanitarian and international help for Venezuela, given its current situation, and exhorted his fellow citizens to take to the streets, saying that “it’s the only way out” of the country’s dilemma.