Venezuela Arrests Five Intelligence Agents in Protest Killings 1

(AFP) Venezuelan authorities said Wednesday they had arrested five intelligence agents for suspected ties to killings during protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

On Monday, nine people were arrested in the same case including three SEBIN intelligence service members, and the rest police.

“The prosecutor’s office has detained five SEBIN officials for their alleged connections to the deaths of demonstrators Bassil Da Costa and Juan Montoya,” it said in a statement, noting that brought to 14 the number of arrests in the case.

Da Costa was a student involved in the protests against Maduro’s government, while Montoya was part of a pro-government organization.

Oil-rich but deeply divided Venezuela has been swept by student-led protests since February 4, posing the greatest challenge yet to Maduro’s government just under a year since he took office.

Maduro has sought to deepen the socialist, anti-American policies of his charismatic predecessor and mentor, the late Hugo Chavez.

But public anger over shortages of food and other basic goods, soaring inflation and rampant crime has served as kindling for street violence.

Maduro has responded to the street protests with force, arresting scores of demonstrators as well as prominent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.