The interior minister of the South American nation says a group from Colombia attempted to invade the country by boat. Venezuela is mired in a political and economic crisis over the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's rule.
Venezuela announced that an armed group launched an invasion before dawn on Sunday by boat, attacking through the port city of La Guaira.
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said on state television that Venezuelan forces overcame the attackers. He did not say who the assailants were but identified them as coming from Colombia.
"In the early hours of May 3, a group of terrorist mercenaries from Colombia intended to carry out an invasion by sea with the aim of committing terrorist acts in the country," the minister said.
Reverol added that the terrorists were planning to "assassinate leaders of the revolutionary government and generate chaos and confusion among the public."
Attackers 'used speedboats'
"These terrorists tried to enter in speedboats along the coast of La Guaira state, but thanks to the timely, effective action of our Bolivarian National Armed Force and [...] of the Bolivarian National Police they were shot down and others arrested," he said.
Authorities are conducting a wide-reaching search to capture all of those involved.
Hundreds of messages circulated on social networks describing overhead flights, gunfire and explosions and the increased presence of security forces in La Guaira state.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro frequently accuses political adversaries of attempting to overthrow his administration with the support of the United States, which has vowed to force him from office through sanctions that have crippled the OPEC nation's oil exports.
Mired in crisis
Maduro has overseen a six-year economic crisis that has left many citizens unable to obtain basic food and medicine and forced nearly five million people to emigrate.
The US and more than fifty other countries disavowed Maduro after his disputed 2018 election, which they say was rigged, and instead have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation's legitimate interim leader.
But Maduro retains the backing of the country's armed forces as well as countries including China and Russia, which have harshly criticized the U.S. sanctions.
ed/mm (AFP, EFE)