VENEZUELA’S government says it has thwarted a military coup after a group of officers stole weapons and kidnapped officials in an attempt to force President Nicolas Maduro out of office.
Twenty-five soldiers staged a pre-dawn raid on a national guard outpost in the capital Caracas not far from the presidential palace. Witnesses reported hearing gunfire at around at around 7am GMT yesterday (3am local time) and officials said the rouge troops met “firm resistance”. The revolt then sparked riots in nearby neighbourhoods as security forces clashed with protesters who urged the soldiers barricaded in the outpost not to surrender.
In a video message circulated on social media, the troops urged people to defend the constitution against President Maduro.
The coup comes at a time of rising tensions in Venezuela, fuelled by Mr Maduro’s inauguration to a second six-year term under circumstances governments around the world have branded illegitimate.
Critics of the controversial leader blame his government for failing to deal with the South American country’s economic crisis which has led to soaring inflation, high unemployment and widespread shortages of food and medicine.