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World Briefing | VENEZUELA

Troops hold exercises off island base

June 07, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Venezuelan fighter jets and ships fired live missiles during exercises intended to demonstrate the firepower of President Hugo Chavez's military.

Smoke rose from ships off the military base on La Orchila island as Otomat MK2 missiles arced into the sky and Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets flew in formation.

Defense Minister Gustavo Rangel Briceno commanded the troops during the exercises. It was the first time in 13 years that such drills were held with live missile fire at sea, he said.

The ships and planes hit an old tugboat with missiles and a 1,100-pound bomb, sinking the vessel 22 miles offshore, Rangel said.

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