CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Ruling party chief Diosdado Cabello said Venezuelan troops quashed a “terrorist” attack at a military base Sunday, shortly after a small group of men dressed in fatigues released a video declaring themselves in rebellion.
Cabello reported on Twitter that troops quickly contained the early morning assault at the Paramacay base in the central city of Valencia. Military officials said seven people were detained.
The announcement came after the group of men, some armed with assault rifles, announced they were disavowing the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro and said any unit refusing to go along with their call for rebellion would be declared a military target.
“This is not a coup d’etat,” a man who identified himself as Capt. Juan Caguaripano said in the video. “This is a civic and military action to re-establish the constitutional order.”
Cabello, a former military man and vice president under the late President Hugo Chavez, called the attackers “mercenary terrorists.” Socialist party loyalists also regularly use the term “terrorist” to describe opposition leaders and protesters.
The South American nation has for months been in the throes of a political crisis with protests that have left more than 120 dead, nearly 2,000 wounded and over 500 detained. The political standoff heightened this week with the installation of an all-powerful constitutional assembly that opposition members fear Maduro will use to tighten his grip on power, install a one-party state and remove foes from office.
Caguaripano, the leader of the alleged plot, has a history of rebellion.
In 2014, while a captain in the national guard and amid a previous wave of anti-government unrest, he released a 12-minute video denouncing Maduro. He later reportedly sought exile after a military tribunal ordered his arrest, appearing in an interview on CNN en Espanol to draw attention to dissatisfaction within the ranks over Venezuela’s demise.
He returned to Venezuela to lead Sunday’s uprising, said Giomar Flores, a mutinous naval officer who said he is a spokesman for the group from Bogota, Colombia.
Videos circulating on social media showed a police convoy speeding down a road amid the sound of apparent gunfire.
The Paramacay base, surrounded by a residential neighborhood in Valencia, is one of Venezuela’s largest and houses some of the country’s most important armaments including Russian-made tanks.
Cabello is the first vice president of the ruling socialist…