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Colombia examines plans against presidents, arrests Venezuelans: Foreign Minister



BOGOTA (Reuters) – The Colombian authorities are investigating possible plans to assassinate President Ivan Duque, who arrested Venezuelan citizens who carried "war weapons," said Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo on Saturday.

Colombian President Ivan Duque speaks on 17 December 2018 during a promotion ceremony in a military school in Bogota (Colombia). REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez

Without giving any indication, Trujillo said in a video message that there is evidence of the existence of "credible" plans for the right-wing Duque, who took office in August.

Three Venezuelans have been arrested with heavy weapons in recent days.

"Intelligence investigations into possible attacks have been going on for several months," Trujillo said. "Added to this is the recent arrest of three Venezuelan citizens found in possession of war weapons, which further increases concern."

Police and military sources told Reuters that on December 21 in a bus two Venezuelan men were caught in a bus The northern city of Valledupar carried two 5.56-caliber rifles, and a third day later was also armed.

The authorities are trying to establish a link between the alleged attack on Duque and the presence of the three armed men in Colombia, sources said.

The safety of Duque was increased with the help of the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Duque, a 42-year-old economist, was a strong critic of the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whom he calls "dictator."

Maduro has accused Colombia of having helped "terrorists" assassinate armed drones in early August. Colombia has rejected the allegations.

The two neighboring countries have been maintaining tense relations for years: soldiers and helicopters of the Bolivarian National Guard regularly cross the porous border to Colombia.

Colombia is also the top destination for Venezuelans fleeing the lack of food and medicines in the country's economic crisis.

Reporting by Helen Murphy, Additional Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, Editing by G Crosse

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