Venezuelan authorities on Monday arrested five members of a "terrorist cell" linked to self-proclaimed rogue Venezuelan helicopter pilot Oscar Perez, and killed several other militants during a shootout in a poor area outside Caracas.
Perez appeared with a bloody face in nearly a dozen dramatic Instagram videos early on Monday, saying that he was surrounded by authorities shooting at him with grenade launchers. State television later read out an official statement that said two police officers were gunned down in the clashes but did not specify Perez's fate.
A former police pilot, Perez is wanted for using a stolen helicopter to lob grenades and shoot at government buildings in June as well as for breaking into a National Guard unit in December to steal weapons.
President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government has described him as a "fanatic, extremist terrorist" and a manhunt has been under way for months. Some Maduro critics have questioned whether Perez' attacks were staged in cahoots with the government to justify a further crackdown on the opposition.