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6 military, police officials arrested in Venezuela: Report

The file photo, taken on May 16, 2019, shows members of Venezuelan intelligence services standing guard outside the house of the Venezuelan former police commissioner in Caracas. (AFP)

Reports from Venezuela have suggested that six high-ranking police and military officials have been arrested with no immediate confirmation available from the government.

The Reuters news agency said on Sunday that authorities had arrested an air force general and a senior navy commander over the weekend, identifying them as Miguel Sisco Mora and Rafael Costa, respectively.

The report cited members of the family of the two military officials as saying that the arrests had happened on Friday in areas east of the capital Caracas.

Human rights sources also said that two retired air force colonels and two high ranking officials from Venezuela’s CICPC forensic police unit had been arrested in Caracas on Friday afternoon.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry declined to comment on the arrests while there was no confirmation from the Chief Prosecutor’s office.

The arrests, if confirmed, comes amid a political standoff in Venezuela between supporters of President Nicolas Maduro and followers of opposition leader Juan Guaido,

Guaido, who as the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly invoked the constitution in January to assume a rival interim presidency, has repeatedly called on members of the armed forces to join his cause.

Maduro views Guaido as a “puppet” of the United States, accusing him of fomenting violence to oust him in a failed coup which he managed to launch nearly two months ago.

Rights group claim some 700 people, including about 100 members of the military, are detained in Venezuela for political reasons. The government denies it has put anyone behind bars for such causes.

Maduro said on Friday that he would seriously deal with concerns raised by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who said during a Friday visit to Venezuela that all those arrested for peacefully protesting should be released.

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