Caracas (AFP) – Troops in Venezuela put down a “terrorist” attack on an army base in the country’s third city of Valencia on Sunday, military chiefs said, after a video surfaced of uniformed men declaring an army “rebellion” there.
Several of the assailants were arrested, officials said, after reports of shots being fired near the base in the city’s Paramacay Fort used by the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB in Spanish).
“Our FANB successfully repelled a paramilitary criminal terrorist attack, the 7 captured are giving information!” Rear Admiral Remigio Ceballos, head of the military’s strategic operational command, said on Twitter.
The head of the armed forces, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, tweeted: “They couldn’t do anything against the FANB… they try to assault it with terrorist attacks. They can’t.”
Local media and social networks spoke of a possible military uprising in the city against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, but there was no immediate confirmation.
In the video posted online, a man presenting himself as an army captain declared a “legitimate rebellion… to reject the murderous tyranny of Nicolas Maduro.”
Speaking with 15 other men dressed in camouflage standing by him, some of them armed, he demanded a transitional government and “free elections.”
The deputy leader of Maduro’s Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, was the first official to tweet news of the attack.
He said troops had been deployed in its wake “to ensure domestic security” and there was “absolute normality in the other military units in the country.”
– New pro-Maduro assembly –
The reported unrest occurred as a new assembly with supreme powers and loyal to Maduro started functioning in Venezuela, a week after it was elected in polls marred by violence and allegations of vote-tampering.
On Sunday, the assembly announced the creation of a “truth commission” to probe alleged crimes committed during Venezuela’s lengthy political crisis.
The opposition and dozens of foreign governments say the new body is illegitimate and serves only to support a Maduro “dictatorship” by bypassing the opposition-controlled legislature.
In its first act on Saturday, the body, the Constituent Assembly, ordered the dismissal of the country’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who became a vociferous critic after breaking ranks with Maduro.
Ortega’s dismissal triggered an international outcry, and she has refused to recognize it.
The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Maduro,…