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Colombian president’s helicopter struck by gunfire in failed takedown plot by ‘rebel groups’

Harrowing moment Colombian president’s helicopter is struck by gunfire: Officials say two rebel groups and drug traffickers orchestrated failed plot to bring down aircraft with Venezuelan weapons

  • A video recorded by a villager in Norte de Santander, Colombia, captured the moment a helicopter transporting President Iván Duque came under fire
  • The incident took place Friday near the border with Venezuela
  • The helicopter was able to land without issue at Camilo Daza Airport in Cúcuta
  • The military helicopter was struck by several bullets which were fired from weapons belonging to the Venezuelan military
  • Duque was accompanied by two senior officials, the governor of Norte de Santander and other government officials; No injuries were reported 
  • Rebel group National Liberation Army and  dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 33rd Front may have plotted the attack
  • The sketches of the two male suspects they believe to have been involved in the shooting were released
  • Authorities are offering reward of 3 million Colombian pesos, about $809,000 


Harrowing video captured the moment a military helicopter transporting Colombian president Iván Duque was struck by in a failed attempt to take down the aircraft.

The viral video footage shows the helicopter flying over a town in the department of Norte de Santander near the border with Venezuela on Friday.

Dozens of shots were fired at at it before safely landing at Camilo Daza Airport in Cúcuta.

President Duque was accompanied by Interior Minister Daniel Palacios, Defense Minister Diego Molano, the governor of Norte de Santander department, Silvano Serrano, and several other local officials. 

None of the passengers on the helicopter or flight crew were injured. 

Molano on Sunday said that the plot to shoot down the helicopter may have been orchestrated by the National Liberation Army – the largest remaining rebel group in the South American nation –  along with dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 33rd Front and drug traffickers and criminals who operate in Norte de Santander and who have a presence in Venezuela.

Still image from a video filmed by a resident in Norte de Santander, Colombia, on Friday captured the moment a helicopter transporting Colombia President Iván Duque came under fire as it approached Camilo Daza Airport in Cúcuta near the border with Venezuela

Colombian President Ivan Duque (center) with Interior Minister Daniel Palacios (left) and Defense Minister Diego Molano (right) moments after the helicopter they were traveling was struck by rifle fire

Colombian President Ivan Duque (center) with Interior Minister Daniel Palacios (left) and Defense Minister Diego Molano (right) moments after the helicopter they were traveling was struck by rifle fire

Police in Colombia released a sketch of two men who reportedly opened fire with rifles belonging to the Venezuelan military

Police in Colombia released a sketch of two men who reportedly opened fire with rifles belonging to the Venezuelan military

On Saturday, security forces combing the area for the suspects located the two rifles that were used in the attack. Both weapons belonged to the Venezuelan military

On Saturday, security forces combing the area for the suspects located the two rifles that were used in the attack. Both weapons belonged to the Venezuelan military

On Saturday, security forces combing the area for the suspects located the two rifles that were used in the attack. Both weapons belonged to the Venezuelan military.

The government has released sketches of the two male suspects they believe were involved in the shooting and are offering reward of three million Colombian pesos, about $809,000, for information that would help authorities arrest them.  

Duque said the helicopter’s equipment and capabilities ‘prevented something lethal from happening.’ 

A video released by the presidency showed several bullet holes in the Colombian air force helicopter. 

A helicopter which was carrying Colombian President Ivan Duque after it was targeted by rifle shots Friday

A helicopter which was carrying Colombian President Ivan Duque after it was targeted by rifle shots Friday

Colombia President Iván Duque said the helicopter's equipment and capabilities 'prevented something lethal from happening

Colombia President Iván Duque said the helicopter’s equipment and capabilities ‘prevented something lethal from happening

Duque said the ‘cowardly’ attack would not make him stop fighting drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime. 

‘The message is that Colombia is always strong in the face of crime and our institutions are above any threat,’ he said.  

Cúcuta was already on a security alert after a June 14 car bomb attack at a military base that caused 36 injuries to both members of the military and civilians.  

Colombian authorities have not confirmed who was behind that attack, but have said they suspect dissidents from the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas or the rebel National Liberation Army. The latter has denied being behind the attack.

In 2018, when the conservative Duque began his presidency, the government said it was investigating ‘possible attacks’ being planned against the president at a public event. The attacks never materialized.

A military helicopter transporting Colombia President Iván Duque was struck by rifle fire on the fuselage last Friday

A military helicopter transporting Colombia President Iván Duque was struck by rifle fire on the fuselage last Friday 

Colombia's President Ivan Duque (four from the right) walks surrounded by bodyguards close to the presidential helicopter at the tarmac of the Camilo Daza Airport in Cúcuta after it was hit by gunfire last Friday

Colombia’s President Ivan Duque (four from the right) walks surrounded by bodyguards close to the presidential helicopter at the tarmac of the Camilo Daza Airport in Cúcuta after it was hit by gunfire last Friday

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