At least 23 people were killed in a police operation that took place Friday to Saturday in a poor neighborhood in Venezuela’s capital Caracas, a human rights organization and local press said.
The special forces operation occurred in the western La Vega neighborhood, according to Marino Alvarado, director of the PROVEA human rights NGO, in a post on Twitter Sunday that cited family members of the deceased, police sources and local press reports.
Authorities haven’t commented on the incident, which Alvarado called a “massacre.”
Daily newspaper Ultimas Noticias also reported 23 deaths.
Special forces chief Miguel Dominguez shared videos on social media of heavily armed personnel wearing balaclavas patrolling the streets around makeshift homes typical of the slums that dot the mountainsides around Caracas.
“We continue on constant patrols, obliged to guarantee our public’s safety,” Dominguez wrote.
The South American country recorded 12,000 violent deaths in 2020, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (OVV) — a rate of 45.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, which is seven times the global average.
The OVV says more than a third of those were killed by the security forces.
The special forces have been accused of multiple extra-judicial killings by various rights groups.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has called on the Venezuelan special forces unit to be disbanded, but it has received backing from President Nicolas Maduro.
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