July 26, 2021

President’s helicopter shot dead Ivan Duque denounces “cowardly attack”

Colombian President Ivan Duque says he was a victim of“A cowardly attack”. He announced on Friday, June 25, that the helicopter in which he was traveling had been the target of gunfire near the border with Venezuela.

“We see bullet holes on the presidential aircraft”, Duque said in an official statement, adding that his security service had prevented “Something deadly”. No one was injured in the incident, a spokesperson for the presidency said.

“We are not intimidated with violence, nor with acts of terrorism. Our State is strong, and Colombia is strong enough to face this kind of threat ”, added the head of state.

This is the first attack against a Colombian head of state since that committed by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in February 2003 against Alvaro Uribe, the political mentor of Ivan Duque. A high power bomb had exploded in a house near the airport of Neiva (southwest) shortly before the landing of the presidential plane, killing 15 and injuring 66.

Great insecurity at the border

Mr. Duque was on board the helicopter with his defense and interior ministers and with Silvano Serrano, the governor of the Norte de Santander department, which borders Venezuela.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Cucuta, Colombia, the trafficking of armed smugglers continues

The aircraft had taken off from the village of Sardinata and was heading for the town of Cucuta, the capital of the department located on the border. In this region of great insecurity clash the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Pelusos, vestiges of a demobilized Maoist insurgency, as well as FARC dissidents and numerous drug trafficking gangs.

Ivan Duque broke off in 2019 the negotiations that his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos was leading with the ELN in Cuba after signing a peace agreement with the FARC in 2016. He buried the talks after a January 2019 car bomb attack on the Bogota Police Academy, in which 22 cadets were killed, in addition to the perpetrator of the attack.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters