Venezuela’s government said it foiled a marine incursion on Sunday by “terrorist mercenaries” who attempted to enter the country on speedboats from neighbouring Colombia, which opposition leaders dismissed as a staged incident.
President Nicolas 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.
The group landed early on Sunday on the coast of La Guaira, about 20 miles (32 km) from the capital Caracas, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said in a televised address.
“They tried to carry out an invasion by sea, a group of terrorist mercenaries from Colombia, in order to commit terrorist acts in the country, murdering leaders of the revolutionary government,” he said.
Socialist Party leader Diosdado Cabello said eight people were killed and two detained.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said one of the speedboats had sunk, and that military vessels were searching the coast for survivors.
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.
Colombia’s foreign ministry said the assertions of Colombian involvement were “unfounded” and were meant to distract from “the true problems that the Venezuelan people are living.”
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