Venezuela Military Clashes with Armed Group Causing Several Casualties

Venezuela’s military has clashed with an armed group near the frontier with Colombia, the mayor of a Colombian border town said, TRT World reports. The confrontation, which occurred in the southwestern Venezuelan state of Apure, resulted in several casualties, said the mayor of Arauquita, Etelivar Torres.

“This Sunday we were awakened, we residents of Arauquita, by detonations from the Venezuelan air force” that continued through the afternoon, Torres told local media, adding that the confrontation had resulted in “a significant number of injured and dead.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on his country’s public television that the military had clashed with an armed group from Colombia, without giving further details.

But a Venezuelan general living in exile told AFP the military had earlier attacked a camp of dissidents of the former Colombian rebel group FARC.

In February, Colombian President Ivan Duque accused Venezuela of “protecting” remaining guerrillas. These guerrilla dissidents have distanced themselves from Colombia’s 2016 peace pact, which ended a half-century civil war and saw the FARC disarm the following year.

Maduro has said his country would “respond with force” if Colombia’s new elite anti-rebel force “dared to violate the sovereignty of Venezuela.” More than nine million people have died, disappeared or been displaced due to fighting against guerrilla forces in Colombia since the 1960s.