A retired army general and a close ally of President Hugo Chavez was shot dead in northeast Venezuela, in what his son has suggested was a killing meant to silence him.
Retired General Wilmer Antonio Moreno was attacked while walking in the city of Barcelona with his wife and mother at 11 p.m. on Thursday, reports El Universal.
The general was reportedly approached by a man who got out of a car and asked if he was Moreno. When he answered that he was, the assailant shot him, pumping the victim's body with at least five bullets.
No one has yet been arrested in connection with the case, and El Universal reports that police officials are not authorized to talk about it to the press.
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Moreno's son reportedly suggested via Twitter that the general had been murdered in order to silence him. La Nacion published a screengrab from the Twitter account of Moreno's son, saying:
I love you dad, the flag of truth and honesty, it will never be able to hide everything you knew, I'm going to make sure of that.
Moreno's son did not say what knowledge he was referring to, but its possible that it relates to corrupt elements in Venezuela's military, high-ranking members of which are known to have ties with drug trafficking and organized crime. In one recent example, a former judge and army general, Eladio Aponte, who has himself been accused of ties to drug traffickers, recently left Venezuela and is reportedly giving information to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on corruption and the military's involvement in the drug trade.
Moreno was a close ally of Chavez, taking part in the 2002 coup attempt (see image, above, and video, below), and had served as deputy head of military intelligence agency DIM. He retired in 2006 after 30 years in the military.
He was closely involved in politics; the day before his death, Moreno had been named as head of the local Front of Retired Soldiers, part of the Battle of Carabobo Command, Chavez's re-election campaign.