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Chopper Attacks Venezuela Court, Maduro Denounces Coup Bid

Chopper Attacks Venezuela Court, Maduro Denounces Coup Bid

A Venezuelan police helicopter strafed the Supreme Court and a government ministry on Tuesday, escalating the OPEC nation's political crisis in what President Nicolas Maduro called an attack by "terrorists" seeking a coup.
The aircraft fired 15 shots at the Interior Ministry, where scores of people were at a social event and dropped four grenades on the court where judges were meeting, officials said, Reuters reported. However, there were no reports of injuries.
"Sooner rather than later, we are going to capture the helicopter and those behind this armed terrorist attack against the institutions of the country," Maduro said.
"They could have caused dozens of deaths," he said.
The 54-year-old socialist leader has faced three months of protests from opposition leaders who decry him as a dictator who has wrecked a once-prosperous economy. There has been growing dissent too from within government and the security forces.
At least 75 people have died and hundreds more have been injured and arrested, in the anti-government unrest since April.
Demonstrators are demanding general elections, measures to alleviate a brutal economic crisis, freedom for hundreds of jailed opposition activists and independence for the opposition-controlled National Assembly legislature.
Maduro says they are seeking a coup against him with the encouragement of a US government eager to gain control of Venezuela's oil reserves, the largest in the world.
Venezuela's government said in a communique the helicopter was stolen by investigative police pilot, Oscar Perez, who declared himself in rebellion against Maduro.
Earlier on Tuesday, Maduro warned that he and supporters would take up arms if his socialist government was violently overthrown by opponents.
"If Venezuela was plunged into chaos and violence and the Bolivarian Revolution destroyed, we would go to combat. We would never give up, and what couldn't be done with votes, we would do with arms; we would liberate the fatherland with arms," he said.

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