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Venezuelan Protester Dies in Attack on Airbase

Puebla, Mexico, June 23, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – One protester died and two soldiers were injured in an attack on a Venezuelan military base Thursday, according to Interior Minister Nestor Reverol.

Protesters hurled improvised explosives including Molotov cocktails into the La Carlota airbase in Caracas and managed to tear down one stretch of a perimeter barrier, according to witness reports.

During the attack, a live television broadcast showed two soldiers open fire on protesters at close range, with one of the demonstrators collapsing after being hit.

One fatality was reported. Protester David Jose Vallenilla was killed after being hit by crowd control ammunition at close range, according to Reverol.

Reverol identified the officer allegedly responsible for firing the shot as a military police sergeant, and said charges will be pressed.

“The sergeant used an unauthorised weapon to repel the attack, causing the death of one of assailants,” he said.

Reverol continued, “The troops responsible for crimes will be brought before the law.”

While condemning the killing, Reverol also urged the main opposition coalition, the MUD, to call on its supporters to end their violence, which often targets government buildings, public infrastructure and civilians viewed as holding pro-government or left-wing views.

“The Bolivarian government urges the MUD to stop the already violent groups that promote death and destruction,” he said.

Opposition lawmaker Carlos Paparoni responded to the incident by calling for more protests.

"If we want to honor the fallen, we should finish what they started: fight until we achieve a free Venezuela," he stated via Twitter. 

The latest death brings the total toll of more than two months of unrest to 85, according to data compiled by venezuelanalysis.com. The violence at La Carlota was at least the tenth attack on the airbase in recent months, according to Reverol.

Thursday’s violence reportedly began as state security forces blocked protesters from marching to the attorney general’s office. Opposition demonstrations have often been prohibited from marching to key government offices, with past protests routinely descending into deadly waves of looting and violence.

Elsewhere in Caracas on Thursday, a journalist has said she narrowly escaped being killed by protesters in the wealthy eastern municipality of Chacao.

Independent journalist Yasmin Velasco said she was covering the protest when “a self-styled group calling themselves ‘the Resistance’ attacked me”.

Velasco said the group tried to rob her and burn her alive, but she was saved at the last minute by a photographer.

"They were literally going to burn me," she wrote on Twitter

Velasco works freelance for the news portal Cactus24, and said she doesn’t consider herself a government supporter. Journalists seen as too pro-government have been targeted by protesters in the past, along with bystanders seen as a potential government supporters. In early June, Afro-Venezuelan domestic worker Orlando Figuera died after being stabbed multiple times and subsequently burnt alive by protesters.

It’s unclear what prompted the attack, though Afro-Venezuelans and the poor are often stereotyped as pro-government.

In one final incident of unrest late Thursday, a public bus was torched in Caracas. The vandals are yet to be identified, though earlier in the day a group of opposition protesters were seen torching a government-owned truck. In photos published by Reuters and state news agency AVN, dozens of opposition protesters could be seen looting the vehicle, before setting it alight.

The government says the truck was transporting basic food products.

Published on Jun 23rd 2017 at 11.33am