2 U.S. embassy officials injured in Venezuela nightclub shooting

The U.S. flag flies at the United States Embassy Headquarters in Caracas, February 5, 2006.

CARACAS, Venezuela Two officials from the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela were injured in a shooting at a nightclub in Caracas early Tuesday, Venezuelan police and the State Department said.

Police spokesman Douglas Rico told television channel Globovision that one of them was shot in the leg and abdomen and the other was shot in the abdomen.

"Apparently it was a fight originating in a nightspot where these people were attacked and shots were fired at them and they suffered gunshot wounds," Rico said.

A police official identified one of the victims as military attache Roberto Ezequiel Rosas. She said he was shot in the right leg during an argument outside a night club in the Chacao district of Caracas and was taken to a local hospital. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release the information publicly.

She had no information on suspects.

In Washington, State Department spokesman William Ostick confirmed that "two members of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas were injured during an incident early this morning."

"Medical staff inform us that their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening," Ostick said. "Embassy security and health unit personnel are at the hospital and have been in touch with the two individuals and their families."

Patrick Ventrell, another State Department spokesman, told reporters that the incident happened in "some sort of social spot or somewhere outside of the embassy grounds."

"I am not sure if it was a restaurant, or a nightclub, or what the actual establishment was, but that is why we are in touch with embassy personnel," he said.

The night club's Twitter account features photos of nude or scantily clad women pole-dancing, posing inside cages or reclining on beds. The text under one photo invites visitors to come and watch the club's "sexy show."

The club is located in the basement of a shopping center in Chacao, an upper-middle-class neighborhood east of the city center.

An AP reporter who went to scene Tuesday saw no obvious signs of a shooting, though plain-clothes officers were investigating the area outside the club. A sign saying "gun-free zone" and with a pistol crossed out was posted next to the entrance.

Crime is a serious problem for Venezuela, which has one of the world's highest murder rates.

Venezuela's government expelled two U.S. military attaches in March for allegedly talking to members of the country's armed forces. Washington responded by ejecting two Venezuelan diplomats.