Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Venezuela's minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino has rejected armed groups he blamed for the killing Sunday of three Venezuelan military members.
"We reject the presence of any armed group, no matter what is their nature," Padrino said, as reported Monday by Venezuela's national news agency AVN.
Hours earlier, he said on Twitter "this infamous act is a reprisal after the capture of nine Colombian paramilitary, whose war weapons were seized" while they were detained. It was not clear when the earlier capture occurred.
"Venezuela is a victim of more than 60 years of war in Colombia, a country that has not been able to guarantee peace in its territory," Padrino added in an earlier Tweet.
The attack happened Sunday in the Amazonas area near the Colombia border.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Sunday retweeted a comment Sunday by Remigio Ceballos, chief of the strategic command of the Armed Forces, who said the country's military is permanently fighting any armed group "that pretends to alter peace" in Venezuela.
The Amazon region where the attack occurred has only 1 percent of Venezuela's population, but one-fifth of the total area.
Colombia reached an accord last year with the Farc rebel group that sought to put an end to decades of violent conflict, but there are some areas of the country that are still seeing fighting.
The Colombian government denied reports in Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, in which officials suggested a military operation to topple Maduro. The Venezuelan leader has long claimed the U.S. and Colombia seek to undermine his presidency.
Venezuela is undergoing an economic and political crisis that includes food and medicine scarcity as well as political violence. Nearly two million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015, according to estimates by the United Nations.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called Venezuela's government "a regime that, frankly, could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that."