Thousands of people are displaced after the Venezuelan army launched an operation against “armed groups” near the Colombian border.
The Venezuelan defense ministry said six fighters belonging to “irregular Colombian armed groups” were killed in a military operation near the Venezuelan-Colombian border. displaced thousands of civilians since last Sunday.
In a statement on Saturday, the department said an additional 39 fighters had been arrested as part of the Venezuelan military operation against armed groups in Apure state, in the southwest of the country.
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said earlier this week that two Venezuelan soldiers were killed in the clashes.
An official from the Colombian municipality of Arauquita told Reuters news agency that around 4,000 people have been displaced since the start of the operation in La Victoria, a Venezuelan town across the Arauca River. from Arauquita.
“We must expel any group of any ideology, of any foreign nationality,” Padrino said on Saturday. “We are forced to expel them, whatever their name.”
According to the statement from the Ministry of Defense, “weapons, grenades, ammunition, explosives, uniforms, vehicles, drugs and technological equipment containing information on their activities” had also been seized.
Displaced Venezuelans have accused members of the country’s military of abuses, including the detention and killing of civilians, as well as looting and burning of houses. Venezuela has said it is investigating these allegations.
“They raided our house and took everything from us,” Jose Castillo, who arrived in Colombia with his pregnant wife and 12-year-old daughter, told Reuters on Friday.
“When they arrived, they broke everything, the doors; they came in and took everything I had in the house, the workshop.
Al Jazeera has not been able to independently verify these claims.
Niomar Diaz, 26, who arrived in Colombia by canoe, told Reuters last week he felt “so nervous” when the bombs fell.
“In one house, a grandfather died, an eight-year-old boy died, a nine-year-old girl and her mother. The situation was terrible, ”said Diaz.
Colombian Foreign Ministry Wednesday called on the international community to help respond to what it has termed a “humanitarian crisis”.