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Venezuela says Colombia's president shielding Maduro's attackers

[CARACAS] Venezuela kept up its war of words on neighbour Colombia on Sunday, saying its president Ivan Duque was shielding the authors of an alleged attempt to assassinate its president Nicolas Maduro.

Caracas said in a statement that Colombia's President Ivan Duque "has placed Colombian institutions at the service of obscure and unspeakable interests against the government of Venezuela, endorsing and supporting all sorts of actions and conspiracies."

That included protecting "the intellectual and material authors" of an alleged August 4 attempt to assassinate Mr Maduro during a military parade, the foreign ministry said.

Bogota had on Friday rejected statements by Mr Maduro who referred to Mr Duque as a "devil who hates Venezuela". He accused the right-wing Colombian leader of "conspiring daily" against his socialist government and its armed forces.

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Since his arrival in power on August 7, Mr Duque has continued to call for international pressure against the Maduro government, and joined his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos in calling it a "dictatorship."

Mr Maduro accused Mr Santos of being behind the explosion of two drones that disrupted the Venezuelan president's speech to an August 4 Caracas military parade.

Mr Duque had rejected Mr Maduro's demand that Colombia extradite the exiled former Venezuelan parliament speaker Julio Borges, who he accuses of participating in the drone attack.

Colombia has taken in more than half the 1.9 million refugees the United Nations says have fled Venezuela since 2015 as the collapse of the economy - under an increasingly authoritarian Mr Maduro - led to dire shortages of food and medicine.

AFP