The president of Venezuela has called for anti-government fighters who attacked an army base to receive the “maximum penalty”.
In his weekly state television broadcast, President Nicolas Maduro said 20 intruders entered the Paramacay base in the central city of Valencia early on Sunday, before the alarm was raised.
Two of the men were killed in a shootout with troops, with one injured, seven captured and 10 managing to escape, the president said.
The attack followed the establishment of a new super assembly on Sunday, which critics say could lead to dictatorship in the country. The assembly has the power to rewrite the country’s constitution and over-ride its congress.
President Maduro claims the new constituent assembly is intended to bring calm to a country that has seen months of violent unrest.
Around 120 people have reportedly been killed in protests fuelled by anger at the socialist government over food shortages, soaring inflation and high crime.
Residents who live near the army base said they heard gunfire around 4.30am.
Shortly after that a video appeared on social media, showing more than a dozen men dressed in military uniforms carrying rifles.
In the recording, a man who identified himself as Captain Juan Caguaripano said they were members of the military who oppose Maduro’s socialist government and called on military units to rebel against the government.
“This is not a coup d’etat,” the man said. “This is a civic and military action to re-establish the constitutional order.”
Maduro said of those who escaped from the base: “We know where they are headed and all of our military and police force is deployed.”
He said he would ask for “the maximum penalty for those who participated in this terrorist attack”.
Defence minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said the men were civilians dressed in uniforms, and that the man who recorded the video was a former officer, who was fired three years ago.
In 2014, Captain Caguaripano released a 12-minute video denouncing the president during a previous wave of anti-government unrest.
The new assembly, whose powers supersede all other branches of government, voted to remove the nation’s outspoken chief prosecutor on Saturday.
Leaders of opposition groups, which boycotted the July 30 assembly election, called for renewed protests on Monday, though turnout at demonstrations has been sparse in recent days.