Venezuela President Maduro arrests 'three plotting generals'

media captionNicolas Maduro was elected in April 2013

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said that three air force generals have been arrested for plotting an uprising against his government.

Mr Maduro said that the authorities had been tipped off by "young officers".

The three generals, who have not been named, had links with the opposition, said Mr Maduro.

The arrests are the latest development in nearly two months of political unrest, which have cost the lives of at least 32 people.

Mr Maduro's comments were made during a meeting with a delegation of foreign ministers of the Unasur regional bloc, which was sent to Venezuela to assess the political crisis.

"The generals who have been detained have direct links with opposition sectors and were saying that this week was going to be decisive," said Mr Maduro.

They were planning to create "chaos in the public services, power cuts across Venezuela," Mr Maduro added.

'Alarmed young officers'

He said the authorities had been alerted by "alarmed younger officers, generals, lieutenant colonels" who had been invited to join the coup. The generals were arrested on Monday night.

Mr Maduro has previously accused right-wing sectors backed by the United States of stirring up trouble as part of a plot to oust him.

image copyrightReuters
image captionOpposition protests have been going on almost daily for nearly two months

The opposition has accused the government of heavy-handedness in their response to the street protests, which began in the first week of February.

Demonstrators have complained of high inflation, rampant crime and shortages of many staples.

They say that more than 14 years of left-wing programmes, introduced by the late President Hugo Chavez, have failed.

Mr Maduro was elected last April to succeed Mr Chavez, who died of cancer in March 2013.

He defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles by a narrow margin. His term ends in 2019.