Colombia probes alleged plot to assassinate President Iván Duque


Colombian President Iván Duque giving a speechImage copyright
AFP/Getty

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Colombia’s President Iván Duque has harshly criticised the Venezuelan government in the past

Colombia has condemned an alleged plot to assassinate its president, and says three Venezuelans have been arrested in connection with the plan.

Foreign minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said there were “credible” plans to target President Iván Duque.

Without going into details, Mr Trujillo also said three Venezuelans had been arrested with “weapons of war”.

Tensions have risen between Colombia and Venezuela in recent months, with mutual expulsion of officials.

Millions have fled Venezuela’s severe economic crisis in recent years, and many of those migrants have crossed into Colombia.

Mr Duque was elected in August promising to isolate the country diplomatically.

“Intelligence investigations into possible attacks have been going on for several months,” Mr Trujillo said in a video message, arguing the arrest of the three Venezuelans “further increases concerns”.

Police and military sources in Colombia reportedly told Reuters news agency that three Venezuelan men were arrested earlier in December, two of whom were armed with rifles.

President Duque has called on countries to not recognize Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro after his contentious re-election in May, and dubbed the leader a “dictator”.

But Mr Maduro alleges that Colombia and the US have plotted to kill him and topple his government.

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EPA

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Mr Maduro has accused the US and Colombia of trying to kill him

The Venezuelan leader recently claimed US National Security Adviser John Bolton was personally involved in the assassination plan.

The arrival of Russian long-range bombers in Venezuela has further increased tensions in the region.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Russian bombers’ visit amounted to “two corrupt governments squandering public funds”.

But Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said they were part of air force exercises with its Russian allies: “This we are going to do with our friends, because we have friends in the world who defend respectful, balanced relations.”



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