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Venezuela arrests 13 mercenaries, incl. two terrorist Americans, for incursion attempt

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that 13 mercenaries including two US citizens working with an American military veteran who has earlier claimed responsibility for a recent marine incursion attempt into Venezuela have been arrested.

Venezuelan forces foiled an incursion by a group of US-backed mercenaries on Sunday in the northern state of La Guira. Eight armed men were killed in the operation.

Maduro, on Monday, announced the authorities have arrested 13 terrorists including two US citizens linked with the attack.

“Thirteen terrorists were caught. We seized materials they intended to use for their plan. We found drugs, dollars, arms, satellite phones, radio receiving sets and night vision equipment,” Maduro said.

He showed the identification cards of the two American detainee with the names of Airan Berry and Luke Denman. He said that these two had been working with Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who leads the Florida-based security firm Silvercorp USA.

Goudreau later admitted that Berry and Denman were working with him in the operation. “They’re working with me. Those are my guys,” he told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

Before the plot was carried out, Venezuela was aware of it, added Maduro.

Washington has been openly calling for the ouster of Maduro, increasing pressure on Caracas in recent months by indicting the leftist leader as a “narco-trafficker” and offering a 15-million-dollar “reward” for his arrest. US has also slapped harsh sanctions on Venezuela.

There was also an attempt at assassinating Maduro with a drone in 2018.

The political crisis in Venezuela exacerbated on January 23, 2019, when Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas. Several countries, including the United States, most of the EU states, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him.

Incumbent President of the country Nicolas Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US. In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.

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