Venezuela government says eight killed in foiled mercenary incursion

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro takes part in a military parade to celebrate the 208th anniversary of Venezuela’s declaration of independence in Caracas, Venezuela, July 5, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Venezuela’s government said Sunday it foiled an incursion from the sea, killing eight members of a group of alleged mercenaries bent on terrorist acts aimed at overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the group, which he said originated in Colombia, attempted to land with fast boats before dawn in the northern coastal state of La Guaira but were intercepted by the military and special police units.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the group landed early on the coast of La Guaira, about 32km from the capital Caracas. /Reuters Photo

“Thanks to the opportune, effective action of our Bolivarian Armed Forces and special police action forces of the National Bolivarian Police, some were shot down and some were detained,” he said on state television.

Diosdado Cabello, deputy leader of the ruling Socialist Party, said later that clashes had so far resulted in “eight people dead and two detained.”

Maduro frequently accuses political adversaries of attempting to overthrow him with the backing of Washington, which has vowed to force him from office through sanctions that have crippled the OPEC nation’s oil exports.

Members of the special forces unit are seen at a shore, after Venezuela’s government announced a failed mercenary incursion, in Macuto, Venezuela, May 3, 2020. /Reuters Photo

Opposition leader Juan Guaido said the government was seeking to distract from recent violent events including a deadly prison riot on Friday and bloody Caracas gang battle on Saturday night.

“The regime is seeking to divert attention with a supposed incident (in La Guaira) plagued with inconsistencies, doubts and contradictions,” the press team for Guaido said in a statement.

Venezuela frequently accuses Colombia of fomenting plots to overthrow the Maduro government and of allowing “mercenaries” to train in its territory.

The Colombian government of President Ivan Duque has denounced Maduro as a “dictator.” The two broke off diplomatic relations between their countries last year.

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