The helicopter in which the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, was traveling, was attacked by gunfire on Friday in the northeast of the country. This is the first attack of its kind against a head of state in recent history.

The president assured that both he and the members of the government who accompanied him are safe. “I want to inform the country that after fulfilling a commitment in Sardinata, in the Colombian Catatumbo and approaching the city of Cúcuta, the presidential helicopter was the victim of an attack. Both the aerial device and the capacity of the aircraft prevented something from happening lethal,” Duque said in an official statement from Cúcuta, without specifying the time of the attack or its possible perpetrators.

The Colombian Air Force helicopter, FAC-0007, received several gunshot wounds, according to a video released by the Presidency. The aircraft was traveling through the Catatumbo region, on the border with Venezuela and where several armed groups operate.

Along with the president, the Minister of Defense, Diego Molano; the Minister of the Interior, Daniel Palacios, and the Governor of Norte de Santander, Silvano Serrano, who were attending an event called “Peace with Legality, Sustainable Catatumbo Chapter.”

This is the first attack against Duque, although military intelligence has detected unsuccessful plans in the past. In 2018, when the president began his term, the government reported that it was investigating “possible attacks” against the president to be carried out at a public event.

The president described the attempt on his life as a “cowardly” act and assured that this will not make him give up fighting against drug trafficking, terrorism and “organized crime operating in the country.”

“The message is that Colombia is always strong in the face of crime and our institutions are above any threat,” he added.

Cúcuta, the city to which it was transported, remained on security alert because on June 14 there was an attack with a car bomb on a military base that caused 36 injuries, between the military and civilians.

The authorities have not yet confirmed the perpetrators of the incident, however, they have pointed out the alleged responsibility of the dissidents of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), a guerrilla that denied being behind the crime .

The attack on the presidential helicopter was rejected by the international community. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard expressed his solidarity with Duque and said in a Twitter message that “Mexico rejects violence and supports Colombia’s democratic institutions.”

The Argentine Foreign Ministry issued a statement shortly afterwards and expressed “its strongest condemnation of the attack suffered by the helicopter in which the Colombian president” was traveling this afternoon. He added that the country “reiterates its strongest rejection of the use of violence.”

Later Juliette de Rivero, representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, assured that it was an “inadmissible act of violence,” while the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the attack. through Twitter messages.

The US Embassy in Colombia also “strongly condemned the cowardly attack on the helicopter” and celebrated on Twitter that “everyone is safe and we congratulate the pilots who brought the aircraft to a safe landing.”

The main political leaders of the country also spoke out. “This is an attack against citizens, against the president and against our democracy that I deeply condemn and reject. We have to take care of Colombia from the radicalization and romanticization of all forms of violent aggression, ”said the mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López on Twitter.

Former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), Duque’s political godfather, said in the same social network that “fortunately, President Duque and the members of his entourage were unharmed. Thanks god”.

Uribe was the victim of several attacks during his tenure. In 2005, a rocket launcher was launched from a house near the airport onto the runway where his plane was going to land in Neiva, in the southwest of the country, without leaving injuries.

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