U.S. Embassy workers hurt in Venezuela strip club shooting

CARACAS Tue May 28, 2013 5:32pm EDT

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Two U.S. Embassy employees in Venezuela were injured on Tuesday in a shooting at a well-known Caracas strip club, police said.

Officers heard shots around 4:25 a.m. at the Antonella 2012 club, better known as "Angelus" in the upscale Chacao district, a police source told Reuters.

One of the embassy employees, military attaché Roberto Ezequiel Rosas, was shot in the leg after a fight between club patrons, according to a police report seen by Reuters and the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The second embassy official was shot in the stomach but did not notice the injury until arriving home, the source said.

In a terse statement, the embassy confirmed an "incident," but gave few details.

"We can confirm that two members of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas were injured during an incident early this morning. Medical staff informs us that their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening," the statement said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reporters saw police detective vehicles parked near the club, which is popular among foreigners. Officials walked in and out of the club without answering questions.

Venezuela has one of the world's highest homicide rates. Violent crime occurs primarily in the country's poor slums, but in recent years, assaults and shootings have become more common in well-to-do areas of the city.

Last week, President Nicolas Maduro launched a security drive that puts soldiers on the streets of the capital. About 20 security initiatives have been implemented since 1999.

The Venezuela shooting may revive memories of an incident that embarrassed U.S. officials in Colombia last year. In that case, Secret Service agents helping to protect President Barack Obama were sent home for involvement with prostitutes.

(Additional reporting by Efrain Otero and Liamar Ramos in Caracas, Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Stacey Joyce)

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