Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the attackers had launched a pre-dawn raid on Sunday.
The mercenaries tried to invade the northern state of La Guaira on high-speed boats, Reverol said, adding that eight of the armed men were killed and two others were captured.
He said one of them was an agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
One of the mercenaries killed, nicknamed “the Panther,” was identified as having been involved in obtaining weapons for the covert force in Colombia.
Reverol added that Venezuelan forces had seized their weapons and were searching the sea bottom near the beach where they landed looking for more weapons after one of the boats capsized.
‘Another coup attempt’
Sergey Melik-Bagdasarov, the Russian ambassador to Venezuela, said on Sunday that the objective of the failed operation had been to bring weapons into Venezuela to be later used by trained opposition forces to destabilize the country and topple the government in a coup d’etat. The Russian diplomat pointed out that it was not the first time that such an operation had been launched against Caracas.
“On the night of May 3, the Venezuelan security forces stopped another attempt to illegally import into the Venezuelan territory a batch of weapons used to organize terrorist attacks, various sabotage acts, and destabilize the situation in order to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela led by [President] Nicolas Maduro,” Melik-Bagdasarov said. “So who are these criminals who staged another coup attempt?”
“It is such mercenaries — the products of a factory of terror and murder, fostered with the support of the US — that comprise such armed groups, one of which was neutralized today,” he added.
The Russian envoy said military camps had been set up with US support in countries neighboring Venezuela, such as Colombia, to give training to anti-Caracas forces to topple the government.
Colombian officials have dismissed allegations of involvement of any sorts in the failed attack.
Former US Green Beret claims responsibility
However, a former US Green Beret claimed responsibility for what he described as a failed operation launched from Colombia aimed at overthrowing Maduro.
In an interview, Jordan Goudreau gave details of the pre-dawn amphibious raid on a location near the South American country’s capital.
An AP investigation published on Friday found that Goudreau had been working with a retired Venezuelan army general training dozens of former Venezuelan soldiers at secret camps inside Colombia. The goal of the operation was to mount a cross-border operation that would end in Maduro’s arrest.
Washington has been openly calling for the ouster of Maduro, increasing pressure on Caracas in recent weeks by indicting the leftist leader as a narco-trafficker and offering a 15-million-dollar “reward” for his arrest.
Washington also has slapped harsher sanctions on Venezuela.
Opposition figure Juan Guaido, propped up by the US, has been laying claim to power in Venezuela. He has formerly launched an abortive coup.
There was also an attempt at assassinating Maduro with a drone in 2018.