At least seven people, including six suspected criminals and a law enforcement agent, died in a shootout, Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said.

The shootout occurred in a city in western Venezuela on Saturday when officers tried to search several houses being used by members of a "mega gang dedicated to extortion and kidnapping," Rodriguez said.

Gang members, who "were behind a long list of murders," opened fire on officers with "automatic rifles and pistols," the interior minister said.

The six gang members died during the operation conducted by officers in a city in Guarico state, Rodriguez told state television by telephone.

The interior minister, however, did not identify the city where the shoootout occurred.

Personnel from the CICPC special tactical unit, the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, or Sebin, and the National Guard participated in the operation, Rodriguez said. EFE