Venezuela's Supreme Court attacked with grenades from police helicopter

Helicopter. File

President Nicolas Maduro called the incident a "terrorist attack" aimed at his ouster.

A police officer, who carried out the attack, has been identified as Oscar Pérez in video statements asked the people to oppose tyranny.

Maduro said he has called up the military in response. Wearing a uniform and reading from notes, he spoke into a video camera about the "criminal government" as four masked men with guns stood behind him.

Maduro said that it was dropping hand grenades at the Supreme Court.

He said the helicopter fired on offices of the court and launched a grenade that did not explode, before buzzing over the interior ministry.

The attack exacerbated an already full-blown political crisis in Venezuela after three months of opposition protests demanding general elections and fixes for the sinking economy.At least 75 people have died since April, with hundreds more arrested and injured in what Maduro terms an ongoing coup attempt with US encouragement.

Venezuela has been hit by a months-long wave of violent protests triggered by a failed attempt by the Supreme Court, loyal to Maduro, to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its powers. "He hijacked a helicopter and attacked the Supreme Court", Villegas said, as quoted by the NTN24 television channel.

Julio Borges, head of the opposition-led national assembly just said that Maduro's statement could not be taken lightly. Villegas said security forces were being deployed to apprehend Perez, who the government accused of working under the instructions of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, as well as recover the heisted helicopter.

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But the government's opponents and critics have said that the president's move towards a constitutional shake-up is a "coup" and have called for his resignation.

In Miami's Doral neighborhood, Jose Hernandez, a member of Venezuela's opposition party, said it is unclear if there is really a group of members of the military and police force who have gone rogue.

Earlier on Tuesday Maduro had threatened that he would resort to armed conflict to defend his socialist government.

Opponents of Maduro accuse him of orchestrating the attack to justify a crackdown on Venezuelans who are trying to block his plans to rewrite the constitution.

Looting broke out in some parts of the country this week, with Venezuelans stripping already bare shelves of what products were left.

The freakish incident comes amid an escalation of chaos and violence in the OPEC nation as months of protests against Maduro's administration have led to almost 80 deaths.

"If Venezuela is thrown into chaos and violence, and the Bolivian Revolution will be destroyed, we will fight". We would never surrender and what we could not do with votes we would do with weapons.

"It is the clearest acknowledgment that Venezuela lives a dictatorship that intends to impose itself - against the democratic spirit - through a constituent assembly that will only deepen the social, political and humanitarian crisis that affects the country".

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