An armed squad in Venezuela gunned down 11 men, including three teenagers and a Colombian national, officials said Sunday. The incident occurred in the western Trujillo state Saturday and according to the officials, suspects are on the run.
The victims — who were in their homes — were forced to move into the courtyards and were shot dead by unidentified gunmen, Agence France-Presse reported citing an official statement. The ages of the deceased reportedly ranged from 15 to 76, and the Colombian national was identified as 76-year-old Alberto Diaz Patino.
The suspects fled the scene in cars and motorbikes, reports said. Authorities have assigned two prosecutors to the case.
Venezuela is currently reeling under political and economic turmoil and nongovernmental organizations say the crime rate in the South American nation is on the rise. Last year, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence group released its report for 2014, detailing 24,980 violent deaths, BBC reported. This translates to 82 killings per 100,000 people — up from 79 in 2013. However, the government, headed by President Nicolás Maduro, has dismissed the group’s report saying the crime rates are far lower in the country.
The country is also struggling with a public health disaster as patient death rates at underfunded and poorly supplied hospitals has risen, a New York Times report said earlier this month. Infant mortality is shooting up, and vital cancer drugs and heart medicines are often found only on the black market.