Thousands flee as Venezuela’s army fights Colombian gangs


Photographer: Daniel Fernando Martinez Cervera / AFP / Getty Images

Deadly clashes between Venezuelan security forces and illegal armed groups have sent thousands of civilians crossing the border into Colombia in search of safety.

More than 3,100 Venezuelans have crossed the border “in a forced manner” since fighting broke out this week, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said in a post on Twitter on Wednesday.

The violence in the Venezuelan border state of Apure continued Wednesday, with explosions at a tax agency office and a National Guard checkpoint, according to human rights group Fundaredes. The military fired at the militias from helicopters, according to Fundaredes, while local media reported that a truck from the state power company Corpoelec was attacked.

Venezuela accused Colombia in a statement of supporting the illegal activities of “criminal groups” at the border, including drug trafficking and illegal mining. The government of President Nicolás Maduro said that these armed groups have attacked civilians, electrical and oil installations, and even planted land mines in the area.

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