Venezuela’s government said its security forces have foiled a marine incursion by “terrorist mercenaries” who allegedly attempted to enter the country from Colombia.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has frequently accused Washington and its allies of attempting to overthrow his government.
The group of “mercenaries” reportedly landed on Sunday on the coast of La Guaira, about 32 km from the capital Caracas, Venezuela’s Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said in a televised address.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said one of the speedboats had sunk, and that military vessels were searching the coast for survivors.
“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,” Reverol said.
A press officer for Juan Guaidó, who leads the opposition-run congress, said, “The regime is seeking to divert attention with a supposed incident (in La Guaira) plagued with inconsistencies, doubts and contradictions.”
The US State Department also casted its doubt on the official version of events and said it continues to support Guaido.
“The Maduro regime has been consistent in its use of misinformation in order to shift focus from its mismanagement of Venezuela,” said a US State Department spokesman. “We fully support Interim President Juan Guaido, the National Assembly, and the people of Venezuela in their quest for a peaceful democratic transition.”
Venezuela still retains the backing of the country’s armed forces as well as foreign countries including Russia and China, both critics of US sanctions.