CARACAS, Venezuela — The Venezuelan opposition leader challenging Nicolas Maduro’s claim to the presidency warned officers from a feared state security unit Thursday to stay away from his family after he accused them of showing up at his apartment in a tense brush with the same force he is trying to persuade to switch allegiance and back him.

A visibly flustered but determined Juan Guaido told a crowd gathered at a university that members of a special police unit known for its brutal tactics had gone to his high-rise apartment in a middle-class neighborhood in Caracas while his 20-month-old daughter was inside.

“I hold you responsible for anything that might happen to my baby,” the 35-year-old lawmaker said as his wife stood beside him.

He rushed home and emerged an hour later holding his smiling daughter, named for Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan patriot who paved the way for Venezuela’s independence, and described how four agents from the police’s Special Action Force had arrived at the building and asked security guards stationed there for his wife.

“Children are sacred,” he admonished the agents as a crowd of supporters applauded. “Wives are sacred. So don’t cross that red line.”

Venezuela’s police denied that special agents had gone to Guaido’s home.

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