CARACAS – Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol on Tuesday confirmed the death of Oscar Perez, the police officer who had rebelled against the government, during the operation to capture him launched this week by security forces.
A total of nine people – Perez, six members of his group and two members of the Venezuelan security forces – died in the operation.
According to the minister, information provided by opposition leaders participating in negotiations with the Nicolas Maduro government helped authorities locate Perez in a house in the Caracas residential neighborhood of El Junquito, where he was killed, along with several of his companions.
Perez, 36, had been in hiding since last June, when he dropped several grenades from a police helicopter onto two government buildings in the capital.
The officer, who claimed responsibility for the attack and had posted numerous videos on the social networks threatening to topple Maduro, last month led an attack on a military barracks, during which the group he headed stole weapons after subduing the soldiers there and reproaching them for their loyalty to the government.
“Despite all attempts to achieve a peaceful and negotiated resolution, this heavily armed terrorist group cunningly and maliciously began a confrontation with security forces, regrettably causing two fatalities among the security forces,” Reverol said.
Eight police officers were seriously wounded in the exchange of gunfire with Perez’s group.
The operation against Perez and his “terrorist cell” resulted in the arrests of six people, including two women.
The arrested members of the group are charged with participating in the assault on the military barracks and collaborating in the logistics and financing – which Reverol said was directed from abroad – of that operation.
According to the minister, Venezuelan authorities found Perez thanks to information obtained from “the recent interview he gave ... to an international media outlet,” referring to US cable television network CNN.
“In addition, within the framework of the peace dialogue, ... political leaders gave important information about the presumed location of this terrorist group ... and it led us to a site in ... El Junquito,” he added.
The government and the opposition are pursuing negotiations to find a solution to the country’s ongoing crisis and are scheduled to meet once again on Thursday in the Dominican Republic.
“Given an attack that put at risk the lives and wellbeing of the (security) officers, they proceeded, within defined protocols, to neutralize the attacking group with the regrettable toll of seven deceased terrorists,” Reverol said regarding the operation against Perez, which some government critics have called an “execution.”
Just before being killed by security forces, Perez had posted several videos on the social networks in which he appears to be wounded and claimed that he wanted to surrender peacefully to the security forces.