[Updated with statements from the Minister of Defense] The Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino López, confirmed that fighting persists in Apure between units of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces and members of Colombian irregular groups.
At 6:20 pm on Monday, the head of the military portfolio reported, through his Twitter account, that “Colombian irregular groups attack us with explosives and long weapons. They continue to instill terror in the population and believe that by harassing military bases they will intimidate us. They cross the river, make their skirmishes and return to Colombia with the protection of their authorities ”.
Then Padrino López launched another trill. “They are cowards. When they are captured they cry and ask for forgiveness, they accuse each other and betray each other. They are a strange species of chameleonic and heartless mercenaries, moved by drug trafficking who intend to do here what they do in Colombia. THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE! ”, Wrote Padrino López.
Earlier, the UN obtained information according to which a unit of the Bolivarian Army was attacked in El Ripial (Apu), a town on the border with Colombia, with three soldiers wounded. The fighting takes place between that population and La Victoria (Apu) because the Colombian irregulars intend to control the border crossing that connects these Venezuelan populations with Arauquita, Colombia, according to military sources.
On this matter, this Sunday President Nicolás Maduro predicted an escalation of the conflict because his Colombian counterpart, Iván Duque, is behind a "great attack" against Venezuela. The day before, specifically on Saturday, Padrino López told foreign correspondents that "we are facing an armed group outside the law ... a very violent group."
In that appearance, Padrino López denounced that this armed group installed antipersonnel mines in Venezuelan territory, which caused injuries to the Venezuelan military. Precisely this monday, Últimas Noticias had access to photographs of military and police officers injured in their feet as a result of these explosive devices, among others.
The graphs correspond to the first days of the fighting, which began at dawn on Sunday, March 21, in El Ripial and La Victoria, neighboring towns of Colombia settled in the José Antonio Páez (Guasdualito) municipality of Apure state. Even Chief Admiral Remigio Ceballos, Strategic Operational Commander of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Ceofanb) did not deny the existence of the fact recorded in the photos. But he did write on his Twitter account: "that's old", commenting on the graphics released.
Other closed sources said that the Colombian irregulars planted unconventional explosives made from R1, which contains 80% of what is known as C4. They also assure that a dissident faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) entered the drug trafficking business to finance their projects. That is why they designed a route to get the drugs through the Apure-Colombia border crossing. And in addition, they captured a large number of residents of La Victoria and El Ripial, whom they provided with weapons, ammunition and explosives. In fact, among the five killed on March 25, is the explosivist who made the devices used in the attack on the Seniat subaltern customs located in the sector, according to investigations.
Venezuelan intelligence agencies detected the plan as a result of drug seizures carried out in that area since last January. And that is how on Saturday, March 20, they discovered that one of the drug trafficking financiers was in La Victoria (Apu), paying the monthly fee to his partners. The subject had a security device that included armed men who began an exchange of fire with agents of the Bolivarian Army at dawn on Sunday, March 21, according to reports.
From that day on, the fighting continued. A contingent from the Special Action Force (Faes) was later dispatched to the site. Apparently, on the other side, the action is commanded by members of the 10th and 28th fronts of the Farc-dissidence, according to the nomenclature used by the Colombian government.
Once the combat started, the irregular groups installed their base of operations in the town of Arauquita, which can be reached in seven minutes on foot from Apure, according to sources. “They will risk their lives to control that Apure-Colombia border crossing because that is where they take out drugs and strategic material. Right now they are losing thousands of dollars due to the effects of the fighting, ”commented the informant.
In this regard, President Maduro said on Sunday that Venezuela is “a victim of the irregular and criminal armed groups of Colombia; we are facing criminals, drug traffickers and bloodthirsty men ”.