A military helicopter transporting the Colombian president was struck by dozens of shots aiming to take down the aircraft.
- Colombian President Iván Duque was under attack while being transferred to Cúcuta via air force helicopter.
- Dozens of shots were fired at the helicopter on Friday.
- Defense Minister Diego Molano, who was also inside the rotorcraft, suspects the National Liberation Army of initiating the attack.
A harrowing video shows the helicopter used to transport Colombian president Iván Duque being struck by dozens of shots. The incident took place on Friday over a town in the department of Norte de Santander near the border with Venezuela, Daily Mail reports.
Apart from the President, Interior Minister Daniel Palacios, Defense Minister Diego Molano, the governor of Norte de Santander department, Silvano Serrano, and several other local officials were all inside the helicopter at the time of the shooting.
Thankfully, the aircraft was able to safely land at Camilo Daza Airport in Cúcuta after the airstrike and none of the passengers were injured.
On Sunday, Molano claimed that the attack may have been organized by the National Liberation Army – the largest remaining rebel group in the South American nation.
The Defense Minister supposed that dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 33rd Front and drug traffickers and criminals who operate in Norte de Santander and who have a presence in Venezuela may have been involved as well.
Following the incident, security forces have located two rifles used in the shooting. Reportedly, both weapons belonged to the Venezuelan military.
Furthermore, the government has released sketches of the two male suspects they consider accountable for the attack. They also offer a generous reward of three million Colombian pesos, a little over $800,000, for helpful information that would lead to their arrests.
According to President Duque, the helicopter’s equipment and capabilities “prevented something lethal from happening.”
While there were several bullet holes in the aircraft, no one on board was injured by the shots. The president asserts that the “cowardly” strike would not stop him from fighting drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime in the country. He added:
“The message is that Colombia is always strong in the face of crime and our institutions are above any threat.”
The Colombian city Cúcuta was already on a security alert following a car bomb attack that took place on June 14 at a military base. The incident caused 36 injuries to both members of the military and civilians.
Local officials have not confirmed who had initiated the assault. However, they have said they suspect dissidents from the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas or the rebel National Liberation Army.