Colombian President Ivan Duque stated Friday that a helicopter conveying him and different senior officials came under blaze in the southern Catatumbo area boundering Venezuela, in a rare case of a direct assault on a presidential aircraft.
Duque expressed that everyone who boarded the helicopter was unscathed, including himself, Defense Minister Diego Molano, Interior Minister Daniel Palacios and the governor of Norte de Santander state, Silvano Serrano. They had just visited an occasion titled “Peace with Legality, the Sustainable Catatumbo chapter.”
“I want to brief the nation that after fulfilling a promise in Sardinata, in Catatumbo appearing in the city of Cucuta, the presidential helicopter was the prey of an attack,” the president stated in a statement.
He stated the helicopter’s equipment and capabilities “averted something deadly from occurring.” A video released by the presidency displayed several bullet holes in the Colombian air force helicopter.
Duque did not mention the time of the assault or say who he believed executed it, but several armed groups are known to function in the region.
The president mentioned the “dastardly” assault would not make him prevent challenging drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime. “The directive is that Colombia is always robust in the face of crime and our institutions are above any pitfall,” he said.
Cucuta, where the flight was moving, was already on a warning after a June 14 car bomb attack at a military headquarters that caused 36 wounds to both members of the military and civilians.
Colombian government has not assured who was behind that assault, but have expressed they suspect protesters from the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas or the rebel National Liberation Army. The latter has refuted being behind the assault.
In 2018, when the republican Duque began his presidency, the government said it was inquiring “possible assaults” being methodized against the president at a public event. The attacks never eventuate.