State prosecutor says 17 miners shot in head in Venezuela

Venezuela officials say all but one of 17 miners were shot in head near gold deposit

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Relatives of a dead miner carry a coffin during a tribute prior to their burial in Tumeremo in Bolivar state, Venezuela, Wednesday.

Chief state prosecutor said on Wednesday that seventeen miners were murdered with all but one having shots to the head near a gold deposit.

A gang shot the miners and cut some up with a chain saw on March 4.

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

Attorney General Luisa Ortega added that all of dead bodies had been identified very quickly and were returned to family members.

"They were all executed with guns ... 16 in the head and one in the thorax," said chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega.

Prosecutor Luisa Ortega confirmed the 17 miners had been murdered, while opposition politicians and witnesses said almost 28 miners may have been killed.

President Nicolas Maduro's government has blamed local gangs, while oppositions accused official security forces of complicity.

Furthermore, some witnesses said that the miners were detained by armed men wearing vests bearing police insignia.

Family members greeted the news with resignation mixed with anguish.

"This is very painful news for us after 12 days of suffering," said  Yosleida Montilla on March 7, a mother of three of the disappeared miners,

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

Four people have been arrested with links to the incident.


TRTWorld and agencies