Colombia investigates ‘plots to kill president’ as ‘weapons of war’ seized
Colombian officials are investigating possible plots to assassinate the country’s right-wing president Ivan Duque, who took office in August.
Three Venezuelans carrying “weapons of war” have been arrested over the alleged plots, according to foreign minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo. Some reports said there was one plot.
In a video message released on Twitter, Mr Trujillo said intelligence gathered over several months suggested there were “credible” plans to target the leader.
He also said: “The recent capture of three Venezuelan citizens found in possession of weapons of war further increases concerns.”
And he claimed the threats came from “internal and external actors”.
On 21 December, two of the male suspects carrying rifles were captured on a bus in the northern city of Valledupar, while a third, also armed, was arrested days later.
Mr Duque’s security has been increased with the help of the US, the UK and Israel, said Reuters, citing police and military sources.
Colombia and its neighbour Venezuela have had a tense relationship for years.
Ties have become more strained in recent months after the mutual expulsions of officials and the presence of Russian long-range bombers in Venezuela.
Mr Duque, a 42-year-old economist, has been a critic of the socialist government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, who the Colombian has called a “dictator”.
Mr Duque has called on “countries that defend democracy” to not recognise Mr Maduro’s government.
The Venezuelan leader begins a new term in office on 10 January after being re-elected in polls that were boycotted by the opposition and called a fraud by the international community.
Mr Maduro has accused Colombia of helping “terrorists” after an attempted armed drone attack in Caracas in August. But Bogota has rejected the accusations.
Mr Maduro has also claimed Brazil, Colombia and the US are all involved in plotting a coup in Venezuela and want to assassinate him.
Colombia is the main destination for Venezuelans fleeing due to food and medicine shortages in their own country amid an economic crisis.