Nicolas Maduro’s forces in Venezuela armed with tanks and live fire attacked an indigenous tribe armed only with bows and arrows in Venezuela when they tried to stop a convoy of humanitarian aid from Brazil.
One woman from the Pemon tribe was killed and 15 were wounded, but the tribe took several soldiers, including three lieutenants and a sergeant captive.
The battle took place in the remote Gran Sabana region near the Brazilian border.
The Pemon were successful at stopping the anti-riot troops in their effort to block food and supplies from entering the country through Brazil near the village of Kumarakapay, about 50 miles north of the border. The soldiers tried to breach barricades set up by residents about 6 a.m., said Jorge Perez, mayor of the Gran Sabana municipality.
Marcel Perez, a 30-year-old Pemon, said in an interview in Pacaraima, Brazil, that he and others had gathered at dawn for a peaceful protest to prevent the military from reaching the border.
“We made a blockade, without any weapon but our traditional bows and arrows,” he said. “They had tanks, buses and a lot of soldiers. And, so they decided to shoot at us with live bullets.”
Five armored vehicles passed by, spewing tear gas that set fire to a small shack, the mayor said.
Those wounded more seriously were allowed to cross on ambulances into Brazil so they could be treated in the regional center of Boa Vista. Perez said he was beaten with sticks a few hours later by members of a pro-Maduro gang while taking other wounded people to a hospital in Santa Elena de Uairen, on the Venezuelan side.
Police said Zoraida Rodriguez, 45, was killed and 15 people were wounded. A Venezuelan general was negotiating with the tribe for the return of three lieutenants and a sergeant captured by the indigenous forces.
Maduro says he is blocking aid shipments claiming they are a pretext for a U.S. intervention.
President Donald Trump has said all options are open if Venezuela continues to block the supplies.
Volunteers are preparing to don white clothing Saturday morning and walk across international bridges to bring food and medicine to their compatriots. Near Cucuta, Venezuelans streamed across border crossings on foot Friday under a scorching sun.