US President Donald Trump picks fresh fight with Venezuela
After US President Donald Trump refused to rule out military intervention in Venezuela, the South American country's defence minister has labelled his comment "an act of craziness".
Trump said on Friday (Saturday NZ time) that all options were open against Venezuela in response to the country's descent into political chaos following President Nicolas Maduro's power grab.
"We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I'm not going to rule out a military option," Trump said from his New Jersey golf club, adding, "A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue."
Venezuela's foreign ministry is expected to issue a formal response to Trump's threat by way of a statement later on Friday.
The country's communications minister, Ernesto Villegas, called the threat from the United States "an unprecedented threat to national sovereignty".
Venezuela appears to be sliding toward a more volatile stage of unrest, with anti-government forces looting weapons from the military after the installation of an all-powerful new legislative body.
The Pentagon said it had not received any orders on Venezuela from the White House.
More than 120 people have been killed and thousands arrested in four months of unrest.
Meanwhile, the ringleader of an August 6 attack on a Venezuelan military base near the city of Valencia has been captured, Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said in a tweet on Friday.
The ministry launched a nationwide manhunt for Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former National Guard captain, on Monday.
The assault on the military base coincided with a video circulated on social media in which Caguaripano called for a general uprising against unpopular socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
"This capture has dealt a hard blow against terrorism," Padrino tweeted.