Diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Colombia have been strained for decades, with the two countries accusing one another of providing funding and support to insurgents or terrorists seeking to topple one another’s government.
Eight Venezuelan soldiers have been captured during fighting with irregular Colombian armed groups in the border state of Apure, Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino announced Saturday.
Padrino said the troops were captured during an ongoing operation, which began in March, known as “Bolivarian Shield 2021” – with Venezuelan troops engaging irregular Colombinan armed forces in Apure state to curb drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and other criminal activities in the border region.
The defence minister accused the militants of using “murderous and cowardly methods,” including the planting of antipersonnel mines and the use of remotely detonated explosives, which he said has killed numerous Venezuelan soldiers and seriously injured others.
Padrino indicated that Caracas has made contact with the militants to ensure the captured troops’ prompt release, and said that the authorities were coordinating with the Red Cross to serve as an intermediary. He promised the soldiers’ families that the military would “spare no effort and exhaust all possible means to recover [the troops] safely.”
The minister went on to blast the Colombian government for its alleged “inaction” and…