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  • A protester covers David Jose Vallenilla (L), who was fatally injured, outside an air force base during clashes with security forces at a rally near Caracas, Venezuela, June 22, 2017.

    A protester covers David Jose Vallenilla (L), who was fatally injured, outside an air force base during clashes with security forces at a rally near Caracas, Venezuela, June 22, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 June 2017

President Nicolas Maduro has condemned the deaths of all of the protest victims. 

Venezuelan authorities have arrested a military police officer and launched an investigation after a 22-year-old man died as opposition protestors attempted to storm a Caracas military base.

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Student David Vallenilla who was shot during a siege on Thursday at Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda Air Base, known as La Carlota, in the municipality of Chacao, in Miranda state.

The events took place near the affluent Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, the focal point of most of the opposition's violent protests over the last three months.

The Minister for Internal Relations, Justice and Peace, Nestor Reverol, has condemned Vallenilla's death and said all legal mechanisms will be activated.

Reverol said "those who are responsible for crimes will be brought before the law," he wrote on his Twitter account.

Soon after, the identity of the alleged attacker was tweeted by Tarek William Saab, the country's Ombudsman, as Arli Cleiwi Méndez Teran, a member of the air police.

The suspect has been arrested and is being detained in the Carlota military base.

A video of the incident was circulated on social media sites, showing demonstrators provoking military personnel during protests.

The recording appeared to capture the moment when demonstrators attempted to charge the fence and Vallenilla was shot in the chest.

Reverol urged the opposition MUD alliance "to deactivate violent groups that promote death and destruction now."

President Nicolas Maduro has condemned the deaths of all of the protest victims. "We are suffering all the deaths, all fallen," he said and insisted on the need to form a truth commission to achieve justice.

Also on Thursday, Venezuelan journalist Yasmin Velasco said she had been attacked and threatened by a group of people, while covering an opposition demonstration called by the MUD.

Freelance writer Velasco was in Altamira when she was assaulted.

She said the crowd threatened to steal her cell phone and burn her bike.

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“Only one cameraman shouted ‘she’s a journalist’ but that didn’t stop the group from wanting to burn my bike and steal my phone,” Velasco said via Twitter.

“They were literally going to burn me.”

The journalist also said the attackers warned her not to return to the area.

Earlier this June, U.S. journalist Abby Martin, who hosted teleSUR’s “The Empire Files” research program, was threatened by violent protesters with lynching and burning if she reported on Venezuela differently than Western media.

Amid the protests, Adriana Sívori, a teleSUR correspondent, was also attacked, hit with a stray bullet while following a lead from right-wing alliance June 5.

 

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