A total of 22 “criminals” and four security agents have died in nearly two days of clashes between gangs and security forces in western Caracas, the Venezuelan government reported on Saturday (10).
“22 criminals have been neutralized,” of which “there are 12 identified,” Interior Minister Carmen Meléndez said in a speech broadcast on state television. A National Guard sergeant and three policemen were killed in the operation.
The clashes began on Wednesday afternoon (7), forcing some residents to flee their homes because of the gunfire.
Meléndez also reported the “death of innocent people” without specifying the number. She spoke of “28 injured”, of whom 18 are “from neighboring communities and passers-by” and have already been treated.
Nearly 2,500 agents took part in the operation to take control of Cota 905, the district where the gang operated by a man known as “Koki” operates. The government is offering a reward of $ 500,000 for the information that will capture him.
In the clashes, large caliber weapons, grenades, tracer bullets were used, as well as drones with which the gangs had a wide view of the areas they controlled.
According to the official report of the operation, more than 24,000 ammunition, three rocket launchers, five rifles, four submachine guns, six pistols and a revolver were seized.
“We seized a military arsenal of war” which came “from other countries”, underlined Meléndez.
“Koki” and other leaders of his gang are still at large. “The shelters they had (…), they destroyed them before leaving, before fleeing on all sides”, explained the official.
Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez has announced the arrest of three alleged Colombian “paramilitaries”.
The government associates the clashes with these gangs, which have also affected other areas of this region of Caracas, with an alleged opposition plot with the American and Colombian governments to “destabilize” President Nicolás Maduro, a frequent denunciation in the official speeches.