CARACAS – Four members of Venezuela’s national militarized police died Thursday morning when they were gunned down as they left a party in suburban Caracas, the deputy chief of detectives said.
“They came for a while ... and at the time they were leaving they were ambushed by this group of criminals,” Douglas Rico told reporters from the scene of the massacre in El Junquito.
He said that the dead officers, ranging in age from 19-24, were divested of their regulation firearms and added that the security forces have been deployed in a search operation to find the assailants, although so far nobody has been arrested.
“We’re working with a figure of approximately eight people,” he said regarding the number of possible suspects.
Crime is one of the main concerns in Venezuela, where the latest government figures indicate that 16,072 murders were committed in 2012, 14 percent more than in 2011 and equivalent to 54 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
However, independent analysts estimate that the real figure is more on the order of 79 homicides per 100,000 residents, making Venezuela South America’s most violent country.
The government has acknowledged that lack of security is a problem, and this year it announced the “Secure Homeland” plan that includes deploying army soldiers on the streets to keep crime in check.
In addition, in November Venezuela signed an agreement with the Chinese firm Ceiec to install some 30,000 video monitoring cameras in more than 10 cities with an eye toward combating crime.