Venezuela demands release of kidnapped soldiers

TEHRAN, May 21 (MNA) – Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez demanded the release of eight Venezuelan soldiers on Thursday who were kidnapped by Colombian armed groups, identified as dissidents of the FARC guerrilla group. 

The kidnappings were confirmed on Saturday by Lopez, who said the soldiers were ambushed April 23 in the border state of Apure, a region that has experienced heavy clashes since late March.

Lopez and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza confirmed the government is working with the international community to get the release of the soldiers, Anadolu reported. 

Arreaza said the Foreign Ministry is working with the International Committee of the Red Cross to create "necessary conditions" for "a safe and prompt release" of the soldiers,

“In the foreign ministry we have advanced the coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, whom we thank for their professionalism and rigor, to jointly generate the necessary conditions for the safe and prompt release of our brave soldiers,” said Arreaza.

Lopez added that the government will “exhaust all possible ways” to recover the soldiers “safe and sound."

The kidnappings is the latest development that has seen heavy clashes occur on the border between Venezuelan armed forces and irregular groups from Colombia.

Fighting began after the Venezuelan army launched Operation Bolivar Shield to protect the border from “Colombia's abandonment,” according to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The move has caused armed groups to illegally occupy the area for drug trafficking purposes.

MAH/AA

News Code 173730

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