The Venezuelan military is hunting for a rogue elite police officer suspected of carrying out a helicopter attack on the country’s Supreme Court.
Oscar Pérez posted Instagram videos admitting the attack and calling on Venezuelans to rise up against the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
The officer’s home has been searched as the president put the entire military on alert, citing a “terrorist attack”.
The country is in the midst of a deep economic and political crisis.
Nobody was injured in the helicopter attack, which took place at around sunset on Tuesday evening.
One police source reported by Reuters said that the helicopter had been dumped in Higuerote, on the Caribbean coast, but that the pilot had not been found. The report has not been verified.
What happened in the attack?
A blue police helicopter was seen flying over central Caracas carrying a banner reading “350 Freedom” – a reference to a clause in the constitution cited by opponents of Mr Maduro to claim his government is illegitimate.
The helicopter, reportedly stolen, carried the marks of the CICPC forensic police force, for which Oscar Pérez has worked for 15 years.
Images on social media showed two occupants, one masked.
The government said 15 shots were fired at a social event at the interior ministry. The helicopter then flew to the court and dropped four Israeli-made grenades of “Colombian origin”. One failed to detonate. No-one was injured.
Many of those opposed to Mr Maduro see the Supreme Court as one of his main supporters.
Who flew the helicopter?
The police officer identified himself as Oscar Pérez in the Instagram video statements.
Appearing in military fatigues and flanked by armed, masked men in uniform, he appealed to Venezuelans to oppose “tyranny”.
“We are a coalition of military employees, policemen and civilians who are looking for balance and are against this criminal government,” he said.
“We don’t belong to any political tendency or party. We are nationalists, patriots and institutionalists.”
He said the “fight” was not against the security forces but “against the impunity of this government. It is against tyranny”.
Mr Pérez is a colourful character, judging by his posts on social media.
He is pictured brandishing a high-calibre weapon while scuba-diving, and in another video shows off his gun skills by shooting a target over his shoulder, using only a make-up mirror as a guide.
He also appeared in the 2015 Venezuelan movie, Suspended Death, which tells the story of elite police officers rescuing the victim of a kidnapping.