At least 10 people were allegedly killed just across the border with Venezuela in a gun fight between two Colombian illegal armed groups that vie for control in the border region.
The fighting took place in the village of Boca Grita, just five minutes from the Colombian border municipality of Cucuta, Norte de Santander, according to Cucuta police commander Colonel Jose Luis Palomino.
Venezuelan authorities did not confirm the alleged massacre.
Palomino’s forces found out about the violence after they discovered a boat crossing the river between the two countries and arrested two alleged members of the illegal armed groups wearing Colombian army uniforms.
One of the men was injured.
Local media reported that the violence broke out between paramilitary group AGC and drug trafficking organization Los Rastrojos that both have criminal interests in the area.
The identity of the allegedly fatal victims is yet unknown.
According to Venezuelan deputy Franklyn Duarte, 12 people died in the violence. “There are more than 20 people injured by bullets and we don’t see the security forces responding with force… to combat these criminal groups that operate in the border regionm” said Duarte on Twitter.
“There’s terror among the authorities themselves,” the politician told French news agency AFP.
The lawless border region between the two neighbors has made it a strategic location for illegal armed groups, including Colombian guerrillas and Venezuelan “colectivos” that engage in contraband smuggling and drug trafficking.
Most recently, the groups have also engaged in the extortion of Venezuelan refugees trying to make their way to Colombia.
The border municipalities have long had high homicide rates because of the large number of illegal armed groups that are active in the area.