Investigators find bodies of 14 missing miners in Venezuela

Investigators find remains of 14 people among 20 missing miners killed by gang seeking control over wildcat gold mine in Venezuela’s violent southern jungle

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People hold placards in front of displayed pictures of missing miners during a demonstration in Tumeremo in Bolivar state, Venezuela March 7, 2016.

The remains of 14 people presumed to be among 20 miners who went missing over a week ago have been found by investigators on Monday.

The miners were massacred by a gang seeking control over wildcat gold mine in Venezuela’s violent southern jungle, authorities said.

The remains have been found buried in a common grave about 5 meters (16.4 feet) deep, government ombudsman Tarek Saab said in an interview with local news station Globovision.

Investigators are still seeking to determine the motive for the crime, chief prosecutor Luis Ortega said.

As the country suffers one of the world’s highest murder rates, Venezuelan government had dispatched more than 1,000 soldiers and cabinet officials to search for the missing miners.

The massacre took place near Tumeremo, in Bolivar state.

A gang shot the miners and cut some up with a chain saw on March 4, some witnesses cited by local media, relatives and politicians said.

The government accused foreign paramilitaries for the case that shocked the country while opponents have accused security forces of being negligent.

Family members greeted the news with resignation mixed with anguish.

"This is very painful news for us after 12 days of suffering," Yosleida Montilla, a mother of three of the disappeared miners, told AP.

Gang fights are common in the area near the borders of Guyana and Brazil, where there are a high number of illegal mines.

One woman has already been arrested on Tuesday and arrest warrants for three people, including an Ecuadorian, have been issued, chief prosecutor said.

TRTWorld, AP