TWO would-be saboteurs were killed in the latest in a series of attacks on Venezuela’s national grid, a government minister said on Tuesday, taking the total death toll to 10.
Electrical Energy Minister Luis Motta said that Ricardo Casanova and Jimmy Sandoval died in the early hours of Tuesday morning after they were electrocuted while trying to cut electrical cables in Facon.
And, in a separate attack, four people entered the Carabobo state substation on Sunday and created a short circuit that caused a three-hour blackout. One security guard was injured trying to stop them.
Meanwhile paramilitary police caught seven suspects trying to enter a facility in Miranda state.
The suspects exchanged fire with the police and one was injured and arrested.
Mr Motta said that 10 people had now been killed and a total of four arrested in just 12 days.
On January 31, he announced one person had died after being electrocuted while tampering with an electricity substation in Zulia state.
On February 2, the minister reported that three deaths had been caused when saboteurs sparked a massive blaze at the Moron petrochemical plant in Carabobo state.
After that tragedy, President Nicolas Maduro accused right-wing elements of organising the attacks.
Since the appointment in January of new Vice-President Tareck El Aissami — with special responsibility for cracking down on opposition violence — several members of the far-right Popular Will (VP) party have been arrested in possession of guns and explosives.
VP leader Leopoldo Lopez was jailed for almost 14 years in 2015 for inciting 2014’s year-long Guarimba regime-change riots that left 43 people dead and more than 800 injured.
At a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, Mr Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori urged US President Donald Trump’s administration to “take action” against the Maduro government, “not just words.”
That came the day after the US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Mr Aissami following a lengthy media campaign by the Associated Press news agency and cross-party lobbying by members of Congress.
They accused the Venezuelan vice-president of involvement in narcotics trafficking — based on the testimony of a convicted drug baron — and support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement.
Mr Maduro said Caracas would respond to the “grave error” with “equilibrium and firmness.”
Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez alleged that the US embassy and “violent criminal groups and extremists in the Venezuelan opposition are encouraging the new administration to continue the historical mistakes committed by President Obama against Venezuela.”
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