At least 18 killed at illegal gold mine in Venezuela during clashes with security forces
At least 18 people have been killed at an illegal gold mine in southern Venezuela during clashes with security forces looking to take control of the area.
Violence broke out in Bolivar state on Saturday when the army travelled to the Cicapra mine after receiving information that an armed gang was threatening wildcat miners in the remote area, an officer said.
No soldiers are thought to be among the dead.
The officer said none of those killed carried identification, but that one of those killed is believed to be a woman known locally as "the boss" who is suspected of taking control of the area following the murder last year of her brother, Anderson Rodriguez, an alleged gang leader known for his ruthless treatment of miners.
Four assault weapons, grenades and several light firearms were seized during the encounter.
It is the most violent incident at a mine in Bolivar state since the bodies of 17 wildcat miners were found in a mass grave in 2016.
Violence has been on the rise in Bolivar as Venezuela's cash-strapped government looks to open the resource-rich area to foreign investment amid an ongoing turf war in the lawless area between criminal gangs and the military.