A former US special forces soldier has claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to invade Venezuela in a plot to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.
Jordan Goudreau, a former Army Green Beret, said he directed the secret military operation with the backing of Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido in the anti-Maduro coup called “Operation Gideon”.
Venezuela‘s government said it had killed at least eight of the attackers and arrested two others from the attack on Sunday involving a group of armed men.
The incident took place in La Guaira, about 20 miles from Caracas, and is understood to have launched from neighbouring Colombia.
“A group of terrorist mercenaries, organised and trained in Colombia, tried to disembark with war material off the coast of La Guaira,” a statement released by the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) read.
Socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello said on state television that the attack was carried out by Colombia with US backing in a plot to overthrow Mr Maduro, whose presidency has been under dispute since last year.
Mr Goudreau and Javier Nieto, a retired Venezuela captain, posted a video from an undisclosed location saying they had launched the attack.
An investigation by the Associated Press found that the pair had been working to train dozens of deserting Venezuelan soldiers at secret camps inside Colombia.
The goal was to mount a cross-border raid that would end in Mr Maduro’s arrest.
Both men, who live in Florida, declined to speak to journalists on Sunday.
Wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, Mr Goudreau says in the video: “A daring amphibious raid was launched from the border of Colombia deep into the heart of Caracas”.
He stands next to Mr Nieto in the clip, who is dressed in an armoured vest with a rolled-up Venezuelan flag pinned to his shoulder.
Mr Goudreau claimed that cells of his men were still on the ground and activating inside Venezuela, and said he hoped to join the rebels soon.
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