Caracas (July 6, 2017): Supporters of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who stormed the opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas on Wednesday attacked and injured several lawmakers.
The Independence Day clashes are the latest outbreak of violence in a country struggling with a deepening economic crisis and sometimes bloody street protests calling for a change of government.
Video and images from scene showed government supporters — some wearing bandanas and carrying Venezuela’s tricolor flag — storming the assembly building and pushing open its massive wooden doors. They were armed with pipes, sticks and stones, witnesses said.
Inside, blood stained the floors and walls of the assembly hall as wounded lawmakers were tended to by colleagues. At least seven legislative employees and five lawmakers have been injured, according to National Assembly President Julio Borges.
Journalists inside the assembly building said that they had also been assaulted. Before ending a military parade on the 206th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Maduro condemned the violence and said “strange facts always occur with the opposition.” He also ordered an investigation.
“I will never be complicit to any act of violence,” he said. “I want peace for Venezuela. I do not accept violence from anyone.”
The latest assault on the National Assembly follows several tumultuous days for the troubled nation. Police officer Oscar Perez last week stole a government helicopter with a team of accomplices, flew over the Supreme Court, dropped grenades, fired shots and then flew around Caracas for about two hours.
No one at the Supreme Court was injured and military forces did nothing to intervene — even though Perez was flying in plain sight. Maduro condemned the attack and denied any involvement.