CARACAS – Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami reported on Wednesday that the helicopter used in Tuesday’s airborne grenade attack on the Supreme Court was found by authorities in a town in the state of Vargas, near Caracas, although he said no arrests have been made so far.
“Despite the adverse weather conditions, our FANB (navy) has located the helicopter that was used in two terrorist attacks on Venezuelan state institutions,” El Aissami said in a telephone call to state-run VTV television.
El Aissami said that the helicopter was found in the town of Osma, in the central Venezuelan coastal region and “is ... being inspected” prior to being transported to Caracas for further analysis.
He also asked for the help of the public in the investigation to locate the perpetrators of the attack.
Earlier in the day, Venezuela’s new foreign minister, Samuel Moncada, denounced the silence of Spain, Italy, the European Union, Argentina, Mexico and Canada after the grenade attack on the Supreme Court, a strike staged from a helicopter allegedly by a mutinous police officer calling for the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro.
According to the minister’s version of events, Oscar Perez, an officer with the air transport division of the country’s national police agency (CICPC), stole a helicopter on Tuesday from that unit and overflew downtown Caracas to fire about 15 shots at the Interior and Justice Ministry building and then flew to the Supreme Court, where he once again opened fire and also dropped four grenades, three of which exploded.
The whereabouts of the pilot are not known, but police have not announced his arrest.
Meanwhile, Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said on Wednesday that Venezuela has issued an international arrest warrant for Perez.
Venezuela is mired in a serious economic, political and social crisis, and for about the past three months, both pro- and anti-government demonstrations – some of them violent – have been almost daily occurrences, leaving at least 76 people dead and more than 1,000 injured.
Opposition activists and many among the general public have been demanding Maduro’s resignation and blaming the government for the nationwide scarcity of food and medicines, as well as accusing the authorities of trampling democracy and human rights.