Venezuela opposition leader anxious by attack

Members of Venezuela

Members of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly

The attack on the Paramacay complex in Valencia, 170 kilometres west of the capital Caracas, was launched by around 20 mercenaries, who targeted the firearms depot at the base, according to Maduro. Police arrested seven men who they said participated in a "terrorist attack" against the president.

The attack capped an already tense weekend during which a new constitutional assembly that will rule with almost unlimited powers voted to remove chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz.

Many foreign governments have condemned the rewriting of the constitution as a power grab by Maduro, and the United States responded by placing sanctions on top Venezuelan officials.

"We are united now, more than ever, with the fearless people of Venezuela who do not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's murderous tyranny", said a man claiming to be Captain Juan Caguaripano of the National Guard, who deserted in 2014.

Nearby residents who saw the dissident group's video online gathered around the military base chanting "Freedom!"

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini's office said Monday that the assembly's actions and removal of Luisa Ortega Diaz "have further weakened the prospects for a peaceful return to the democratic order".

"This is not a coup d'etat", he said.

In its first act on Saturday, the body, the Constituent Assembly, ordered the dismissal of the country's attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who became a vociferous critic after breaking ranks with Maduro.

The White House said Mr Maduro was effectively a dictator after "seizing absolute power" with the vote for a constituent assembly.

Others in Valencia, however, were quoted by the local media as expressing the opinion that the entire affair had been "staged" by the government to divert growing popular anger.

More than 100 people have died in clashes between security forces, and protesters and more than 500 people have been detained, reports the AP.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez characterized the attackers as a "paramilitary" expedition, saying the intruders were civilians dressed in uniforms.

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 sacked three years ago.

"In 2014, while a captain in the national guard and amid a previous wave of anti-government unrest, he released a 12-minute video denouncing Maduro".

Venezuelans view the armed forces as the key power broker in their country، and opposition leaders have repeatedly exhorted the military to break with Maduro over what they call his erosion of democracy and brutality toward demonstrators.

Conflicting accounts of the military action included claims that elements within the armored brigade supported the action before it was put down by forces loyal to the government. Although the order was quickly annulled, near-daily demonstrations snowballed into a general protest calling for a new presidential election. He and his predecessor, the late President Hugo Chavez, worked diligently to assure their allegiance.

Like Sunday's uprising, most manifestations of dissent among the troops have been small and isolated thus far.

The court had already shot down most congressional measures since the opposition won control. "It's very hard to create critical mass without being found out", he said.

The Opposition has vowed to maintain street protests against the assembly.

President Maduro claims the new constituent assembly is meant to bring calm to a country that has seen months of violent unrest.

Ms Ortega, however, has refused to recognise the decision by the constituent assembly, which she says is illegal, and insists she continues to be Venezuela's chief prosecutor.

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