Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 5 June 2020

Venezuela says 39 ex-soldiers caught trying to enter country

Authorities say the soldiers are linked to the failed armed incursion aimed at toppling President Nicolás Maduro earlier this month

The US has imposed tough sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector in its efforts to dismiss President Maduro. AFP
The US has imposed tough sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector in its efforts to dismiss President Maduro. AFP

Venezuelan authorities said on Thursday they have seized 39 military deserters trying to enter the country from Colombia, who are believed to be linked to the failed armed incursion by sea early this month that was aimed at toppling President Nicolás Maduro.

Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino López gave no details on where or when the former soldiers were captured. Officials had previously reported the arrests of at least 40 people, including two Americans, as a result of the May 3 raid on the coastal town of Macuto.

Speaking on state television, Padrino López said authorities assume the captured deserters “came to fulfil a task as part of the general scheme” of the thwarted maritime incursion.

He repeated the government’s charge that the raid had “foreign financing, with equipment supplied by powers such as the United States (and) the government of Colombia itself.”

Mr Maduro on Thursday claimed that “new mercenary groups” are being formed in neighbouring Colombia, though he presented no evidence.

The governments of the United States and Colombia, which are close allies of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, have rejected the allegation that they were involved in the armed attack. On Monday, Mr Guaidó announced that two of his US-based political advisers had resigned over their ties to the failed raid.

Two Americans were captured after the incursion along with eight other men, some of whom were described as Venezuelan deserters.

Updated: May 15, 2020 08:53 AM

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