A group of seven hooded men in Caracas took a public bus driver hostage on Saturday and then set his vehicle on fire, Reuters reported, marking escalating violence amid anti-government protests in Venezuela.
Leonardo Liconte, 41, was approached by seven people while trying to leave a highway blocked by an opposition protest, according to Venezuela’s Ministry of the People's Power for Interior Relations and Justice.
“Honestly, if they had known that I support the Revolution, they would have killed me,” Liconte said, HispanTV reported.
“If I had said ‘Homeland, Socialism or Death,’ they would have killed me.”
As seen in numerous videos circulating social media, the incident took place in the Chacao municipality of eastern Caracas — an area run by Mayor Ramon Muchacho, a member of the right-wing opposition.
Delincuentes contratados por la Derecha Terrorista incendian una unidad de transporte público en la Av. Francisco de Miranda, Altamira pic.twitter.com/m2ZZq52CGL— Néstor Luis Reverol (@NestorReverol) May 13, 2017
Delinquents hired by the terrorist right set fire to a public transport unit on Francisco de Miranda Avenue in Altamira.
El conductor de la unidad fue secuestrado por 7 Delincuentes a la altura del C.C Sambil en Chacao y lo trasladaron hasta Altamira pic.twitter.com/N7f0WxSub6— Néstor Luis Reverol (@NestorReverol) May 13, 2017
The driver of the unit was abducted by seven delinquents at the height of C.C Sambil in Chacao and transferred to Altamira.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed Julio Borges, head of the National Assembly, for the attack. The National Assembly, controlled by the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable, is currently in contempt by the Supreme Court of Justice.
“The authors of this terrorist attack are already identified,” Maduro said during a televised government event.
Vice President Tareck El Aissami denounced that 94 transportation units, both public and private, have been affected by protests called by the opposition.
Echoing El Aissami’s denouncement, United Socialist Party of Venezuela lawmaker Dario Vivas accused the country’s right-wing of killing young demonstrators in order to obtain political benefits. Vivas said that they use young people as “cannon fodder” in order to materialize their political agendas.
He also called on the youth of the country to “work for the future of Venezuela” and not be carried away by hatred.