Venezuela opposition denounces arrests of Guaido allies

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Caracas (AFP)

Venezuela's opposition claimed Thursday that two members of leader Juan Guaido's team were arrested on the same day that he was due to appear before prosecutors investigating an alleged "attempted coup d'etat" and "magnicide."

Demostenes Quijada and Maury Carrero were arrested at their homes on Thursday morning by military intelligence agents, Guaido's office said in a statement.

"With this new assault by the dictatorship, there are now 10 members" of Guaido's team "that have been detained by security forces. Five of them in the last 72 hours," Guaido's office said on Twitter.

Neither the government of President Nicolas Maduro, nor police or military authorities have confirmed the arrests.

Around 30 officers "dressed in black, masked and with heavy weapons" took part in the operation to arrest Quijada, said Guaido's human rights representative, Humberto Prado, who accused the agents of "ransacking the home and arbitrarily confiscating" two family vehicles.

A similar operation was conducted against Carrero, opposition lawmaker Delsa Solorzano said.

The arrests happened on the same day Guaido had been called to appear before the public prosecutor.

The subpoena, according to Attorney General Tarek William Saab, is based on an alleged seizure of firearms in Colombia that were due to be sent to Venezuela as part of a plot to assassinate Maduro and other high-ranking officials.

Guaido was apparently implicated in the alleged plot by Cliver Alcala, a retired military leader who was close to late former president Hugo Chavez but fell out with his successor Maduro.

Last week, Alcala turned himself over to Colombian authorities after he was one of more than a dozen present and former top Venezuelan officials -- including Maduro -- accused by the US of drug-trafficking.

Washington had offered a reward for information leading to Alcala's capture, as well as those of the other figures the US accused.

Alcala had been living in Colombia since falling out with Maduro.

Guaido has ruled out appearing before Saab.

"There's no point given he doesn't even have a position" of authority, Guaido told Miami-based online EVTV channel.

Last year, Guaido declared himself acting president in a challenge to Maduro's authority and that of his regime. Guaido has been recognized as such by more than 50 countries, including Colombia, the US and much of the EU.

Guaido doesn't recognize Maduro as president or other top officials such as Saab.

The US, which on Wednesday launched an anti-drugs operation in the Caribbean, has warned Maduro's regime against arresting Guaido.