Venezuela starts mil­i­tary ex­er­cises along Colom­bia bor­der

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

CARA­CAS (AP) — Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro launched ex­tended mil­i­tary ex­er­cises along Venezuela’s bor­der with Colom­bia on Tues­day, draw­ing Wash­ing­ton’s at­ten­tion amid ris­ing fric­tion be­tween the South Amer­i­can neigh­bors.

Maduro has come un­der mount­ing pres­sure from Colom­bia and the United States, which are among more than 50 na­tions that back op­po­si­tion politician Juan Guaido’s bid to oust the so­cial­ist pres­i­dent. They con­tend Maduro’s re-elec­tion in 2018 was bo­gus.

Ten­sions spiked re­cently when Colom­bia and Venezuela ac­cused each other of har­bor­ing hos­tile armed groups within their borders that are try­ing to over­throw the neigh­bor­ing gov­ern­ment. In re­sponse, Maduro put sol­diers on alert and sum­moned his de­fense coun­cil, say­ing the ma­chin­ery of war has started against Venezuela.

“The mo­ment has come to de­fend our sovereignt­y and na­tional peace by de­ploy­ing our de­fense re­sources in full force,” Maduro said on Twit­ter.

Roughly 150,000 mil­i­tary per­son­nel will con­duct drills through Sept. 28, said Remi­gio Ce­bal­los, strate­gic com­man­der of the Bo­li­var­ian Na­tional Armed Forces, who is over­see­ing op­er­a­tions.

An ar­ray of tanks, mis­sile launch­ers and air­craft were staged at the Garcia de He­via In­ter­na­tional Air­port near the bor­der. A mil­i­tary band played as the ve­hi­cles filed out.

“This is an op­er­a­tion to de­fend our na­tional ter­ri­tory,” said Ce­bal­los, adding that the armed forces are on the watch to in­ter­cept at­tacks from Colom­bia, the U.S. or any other threat.

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