The Venezuelan government has blamed a police helicopter pilot for an attack President Nicolás Maduro is calling a terrorist attack aimed at inciting a rebellion against him.
Information Minister Ernesto Villegas stated the pilot fired 15 shots at the Interior Ministry on Tuesday, June 27 before the flying to the country’s supreme court and dropping four grenades on the building.
No casualties were reported.
Villegas identified one of the pilots as Óscar Pérez, a 13-year veteran officer of Venezuela’s federal police forensic and intelligence unit (the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas or CICPC), and accused him of working under the direction of the CIA and the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.
The government has called the incident a terror attack aimed at overthrowing Maduro.
Before Villegas announced the pilot’s identity, local Venezuelan news outlets and social media users had shared images of Pérez flying the helicopter with a banner calling for a rebellion against Maduro’s government.
Rogue officer from Venezuela's equivalent of the FBI flew over Caracas today, displaying banner calling for rebellion against Maduro govt. https://t.co/PUEzOPQ5pI
— Stephen Gibbs (@STHGibbs) June 27, 2017
— Christopher Abreu (@AbreuReport) June 27, 2017
Pérez also appeared to upload a 5-part video where he claimed responsibility for the attack and read a long statement against the “corrupt government” and Maduro’s “tyranny.”
“On this day we are carrying out an air-ground deployment with the sole purpose of restoring power to the democratic people and thus complying with and enforcing the laws to reestablish constitutional order,” he said in the video.
Pérez has not been found, according to Villegas.
Vice President Tareck El Aissami said on Wednesday the helicopter was found. However, there was no sign of Pérez.
A pesar de las condiciones climáticas adversas, nuestra FANB ha localizado el helicóptero que fue utilizado por el terrorista Oscar Pérez. pic.twitter.com/G8VdSfQiBU
— Tareck El Aissami (@TareckPSUV) June 28, 2017
Freddy Guevara, the opposition-controlled National Assembly’s vice president, called the incident a stunt. Maduro’s opponents alleged the attack was staged to justify a government crackdown on dissent.
Julio Borges, president of the National Assembly, said Tuesday’s events had a lot of contradictions. “Some people say it is a set-up, some that it is real,” Borges stated.
The attack comes as protests against Maduro’s government rage well into their third month. Last week, a military police sergeant shot and killed a protester outside an air base near Caracas, bringing the death toll in the daily protests to 76 since April.