Venezuelan intelligence brokers have detained a senior aide to opposition chief Juan Guaidó after a raid on his Caracas residence.
Mr Guaidó has demanded the instant launch of his chief of workers Roberto Marrero, whose whereabouts are unknown.
The close by residence of opposition legislator Sergio Vergara was additionally raided. He was briefly detained.
The operation may sign a crackdown on the opposition by embattled President Nicolás Maduro, analysts say.
Mr Guaidó, head of the opposition-controlled Nationwide Meeting, declared himself interim chief on 23 January, saying Mr Maduro’s re-election final Might was illegitimate.
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On Twitter, he mentioned Mr Marrero had been “kidnapped” and that “two rifles and a grenade had been planted” at his aide’s residence throughout the raid at about 02:00 native time (06:00 GMT).
Talking at a press convention on Thursday, Mr Guaidó mentioned “we cannot be intimidated” by what he described as a “vile, vulgar kidnapping”.
He mentioned Mr Marrero’s arrest “will not make us deviate from the trail we’re on” and requested Venezuelans to “keep united and mobilised”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the raid and referred to as for Mr Marrero’s instant launch. “We are going to maintain accountable these concerned,” he mentioned on Twitter.
Mr Vergara, who lives in the identical constructing, mentioned greater than 40 closely armed officers from intelligence company Sebin took half within the raids on his and Mr Marrero’s flats. Mr Vergara added that his driver had additionally been detained.
Venezuela’s info ministry has not commented.
Mr Marrero is Mr Guaidó’s most important political adviser and his detention is prone to increase tensions each inside Venezuela and internationally, the BBC’s Will Grant in Caracas reviews.
What is the background?
Mr Guaidó and Mr Maduro every declare to be the constitutional president of Venezuela.
Shortly after Mr Guaidó declared himself interim chief, his belongings have been frozen and the Supreme Court docket, dominated by authorities loyalists, positioned a journey ban on him.
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Media captionJuan Guaidó chatting with the BBC final week: “We wish genuinely free elections”
However the 35-year-old opposition chief defied that ban final month when he toured Latin American nations to garner help.
Mr Guaidó has continued to name for President Maduro to step apart and urge the safety forces, which have primarily been loyal to the federal government, to modify sides.
Final week, the chief prosecutor mentioned it had requested the Supreme Court docket to analyze Mr Guaidó for allegedly sabotaging the nation’s electrical system within the wake of this month’s energy cuts.
Mr Guaidó has been recognised as chief by greater than 50 nations, together with most in Latin America and the US. Mr Maduro, who nonetheless has the help of China and Russia, accuses the opposition of being a part of a US-orchestrated coup.