Venezuela; Request UN Assistance to Remove Landmines

UMMATIMES - Venezuela will ask the United Nations to help remove landmines from its territory. President Nicolas Maduro said the landmines had been laid by armed groups near the Colombian border.

Maduro's government said two soldiers were killed by landmines during a military operation in Apure state on Thursday. Clashes between military forces and armed groups have seen thousands of Venezuelans flee across the border.

"The government will ask UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to provide emergency assistance, so that they can bring in all the techniques to deactivate the minefields that these unusual groups have left behind," Maduro said on television.

The United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Maduro's remarks. Meanwhile, Colombian President Ivan Duque has accused Venezuela of protecting members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and dissidents of the rebel group FARC, which reject a peace deal with the Colombian government. Maduro denied Duque's accusations.

Venezuelan and Colombian human rights groups have asked the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to tackle the humanitarian crisis at the border. So far, the border region has become a center for drug trafficking and smuggling.