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Venezuela says it foiled plot to assassinate President Maduro

By Marilia Brocchetto and Ed Payne, CNN
updated 5:50 AM EDT, Tue June 11, 2013
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro enters the National Assembly before his inauguration in Caracas on April 19.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro enters the National Assembly before his inauguration in Caracas on April 19.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The government says two paramilitary groups plotted to kill Maduro
  • The groups are made up of nine Colombian citizens
  • Maduro won a tightly contested election against Henrique Capriles Radonski
  • Former President Hugo Chavez died in March

(CNN) -- Venezuela has thwarted a plan by two paramilitary groups to kill President Nicolas Maduro, state-run VTV reported Monday.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said members of the groups, made up of nine Colombian citizens, were arrested Sunday in the country's northwest before they were able to enter the capital, Caracas, with heavy weapons.

Intelligence officials are tracking a third group, he said.

"This may be part of a plan that was orchestrated from Colombia to kill President Maduro and de-stabilize the Venezuelan government," he said.

Chaos in Caracas after election
Capriles says Maduro is 'illegitimate'
Maduro calls for peace, welcomes recount

The two nations have had a contentious relationship since 2007 when then-President Hugo Chavez said he was cutting ties with Colombia and especially former President Alvaro Uribe. He said the Colombian president had bowed to pressure from Washington "to get rid of Chavez."

In March of this year, Maduro struck a similar tone, accusing Uribe of hatching a plan to send a paramilitary force into Venezuela to kill him.

An attorney for Uribe called Maduro "a desperate person who holds power illegitimately."

Maduro was sworn in as president on April 19 after winning a tightly contested election against Henrique Capriles Radonski. Election officials credited Maduro with 51% of the vote.

The election followed the death of Chavez, who died in March following a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

While both Maduro and Capriles have publicly called for peace after the announcement of the tight election results, tensions have been running high in Venezuela.

Venezuela's opposition has filed a lawsuit with the country's Supreme Court, contesting the results, citing election irregularities that totaled more than 180 pages.

Ahead of the suit, Capriles told CNN affiliate Globovision that the results were illegitimate and new elections should be held.

"According to the law," he said, "what should happen would be a new election, without any of the irregularities that we have denounced."

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