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Venezuela's Supreme Court attacked with grenades from police helicopter

28 June 2017

President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday a police helicopter had attacked the Supreme Court in a ratcheting up of Venezuela's political crisis, but a grenade tossed at the building did not explode. In a statement posted online, the police officer believed to have piloted the helicopter, flanked by armed men, said he was part of "a coalition of military employees, policemen, and civilians who are looking for balance and are against this criminal government", the BBC reports.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said after Maduro's comments at Miraflores that the grenade attack was carried out by "an armed group financed by sectors of the opposition".

Mr Villegas said security forces were being sent to arrest Perez, who the government accused of working under the instructions of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. embassy in Caracas, as well as recover the helicopter.

"We would never surrender and what we could not achieve with votes we would do with arms, we would liberate our country with arms", he said. As it strafed the court building and the Interior Ministry in Caracas, the attackers fired gunshots and lobbed grenades, officials said. Opposition lawmakers said they had been prevented by guardsmen from leaving the building for over four hours. The president indicated that the attack coincided with a "social function" in the Supreme Court, which he said could have resulted in "dozens of dead or injured". "This fight is not against other state security forces".

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Haley has been the Trump administration's most-outspoken critic of Venezuela, traveling recently to Geneva to denounce the Maduro's government's record on human rights. They said they were there to investigate election fraud.

Opponents to Maduro view the Interior Ministry as a bastion of repression and also hate the Supreme Court for its string of rulings bolstering the president's power and undermining the opposition-controlled legislature.

He also reportedly said the Venezuelan special forces were on the lookout for the "terrorists" responsible for the attack.

Julio Borges, head of the opposition-led national assembly just said that Maduro's statement could not be taken lightly.

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Venezuela is in the throes of a political and humanitarian crisis which has brought thousands of people onto the streets in mass protests demanding a change of government.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Rodriguez criticized Maduro for not holding a referendum prior to the Constituent Assembly election, as his predecessor Chavez had done in 1999. On Tuesday, he said during a rally before supporters that his government was willing to use weapons to preserve the socialist movement started by Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013. Some 68 businesses, including supermarkets, liquor stores, bakeries and food shops were ransacked in a wave of lawlessness that began Monday night in the city of Maracay, 100km west of Caracas, and continued well into Tuesday afternoon.

One dismissed a challenge against Mr Maduro's plans for a constitutional assembly by chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz, a longtime loyalist who broke with the government over the issue.

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Venezuela's Supreme Court attacked with grenades from police helicopter