Military helicopter crashes in Venezuela, killing 7, amid protests

Supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaido demonstrated Saturday in Caracas.

(CNN)A Venezuelan military helicopter crashed on Saturday in Hatillo, a municipality near Caracas, killing all seven on board, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Defense.

Embattled Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro acknowledged the lives lost in the crash in a message posted on Twitter, and sent his condolences to the victims' relatives and friends on Saturday night.
In his tweet, Maduro said the seven who died were officers in the Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, or National Bolivarian Armed Forces, known by its Spanish initials FANB.
According to the Ministry of Defense, authorities are currently investigating the deadly crash.
    Pressure has been mounting on Maduro to step down since January, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president and was backed by the US and dozens of other nations.
    Maduro and Guaido are jockeying for the support of the military, which is seen as key to ending the stalemate.
    Protesters clashed with security forces Saturday after Guaido called on his supporters to continue demonstrations by marching to military bases. Reuters captured footage of protesters outside military barracks in Caracas presenting a letter from Guaido to the security forces. In the letter, he asked the military to switch sides, saying, "The time to act is now."
    The soldiers, however, set the letter on fire without reading it. Tear gas and smoke bombs were also deployed against the protesters.