Venezuela: Two soldiers killed by landmine near Colombian border | FARC news

The explosion also left nine injured among the Venezuelan military, according to the Defense Ministry.

Venezuela said Thursday that two of its soldiers were killed by a landmine during operations to confront armed groups along the Colombian border that have forced the displacement of thousands of civilians.

The news follows an announcement on March 22 by the government of President Nicolas Maduro that two soldiers have been killed in clashes with “irregular armed groups” in southwestern Apure state.

The explosion “left nine wounded among the military, who now receive medical care in the military health network,” said the Ministry of Defense in a statement posted on Twitter Thursday morning.

The ministry added that during operations, troops dismantled nine camps, including one producing coca paste, which is used to make cocaine. He added that he had arrested 31 people and that nine suspected fighters had died.

The Venezuelan press workers union said two journalists and two human rights activists were arrested while working in the area and taken to a military base in Apure.

The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the detentions.

The Venezuelan armed forces launched an operation last week, its defense minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, saying the country would defend itself against irregular groups, while respecting human rights.

Refugees fleeing the area last week, told Reuters that security forces burned houses and killed civilians. Venezuela has said it is investigating allegations that members of its military have committed abuses.

Dissidents from the Revolutionary Demobilized Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which rejects a 2016 peace deal with the Colombian government, are the target of military operations, fleeing civilians told Reuters.

Colombian President Ivan Duque accused the Venezuelan government of harboring FARC dissidents and members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a claim denied by Caracas.

Rights groups in both countries on Wednesday called on the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to address the humanitarian crisis in the border area, which has for years been a center of drug trafficking and smuggling.

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