Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered a new phase of military drills following an attempted armed incursion into the country, the Defense Ministry said.
On Sunday, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that Colombian militants had tried to invade the northern state of La Guaira on speed boats early in the morning. Eight militants were killed and two others captured in the counter operation. Among those detained is an agent for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the Venezuelan authorities. The Colombian Foreign Ministry has denied any involvement of the country in the alleged attack.
“Our Nicolas Maduro ordered a new phase of ‘Bolivarian Shield’ exercise on the territory of the country, mainly on the coast to inspect land, sea and air space and search for clandestine cells that seek to violate peace,” the Defense Ministry said late on Sunday, Sputnik reported.
In mid-February, Venezuela held its first military drills in 2020, after which Maduro said that national security forces were preparing surprise counter-terrorism exercises in the face of an alleged threat from Colombia.
On March 9, the president ordered surprise drills. Several days later, he announced the third phase of drills, which were coronavirus response exercises.
Venezuela and Colombia regularly accuse each other of supporting anti-government militias. Relations between the two neighboring nations took another nosedive after Colombia recognized US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president in January 2019.