A helicopter carrying Colombian President Iván Duque and several other government officials was shot at on Friday, the president announced on Twitter, as he grapples with widespread anti-government protests and clashes between the military and rebel forces.
In a Friday video, Duque said his helicopter was attacked near the city of Cúcuta, an area mired by occasional conflict between government forces and rebel groups, while carrying the president, the defense minister, the interior minister and the region’s governor.
Colombia has been mired in decades of fighting between the government, left- and right-wing groups and narcotics traffickers. The government signed a ceasefire with the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, five years ago, but the government has continued to fight some breakaway groups still operating in the country. Last week, 36 people were injured in a car bombing at a military installation near Cúcuta, an incident Duque blamed on dissidents.
Two months ago, protesters overtook Colombian cities like Bogotá to push back against a set of tax hikes proposed by Duque, leading to deadly clashes with the government, allegations of police abuse and some counter-protests. The president withdrew the tax proposal, causing demonstrations to come to a halt earlier this month, but protest leaders have promised more action later this year if the government doesn’t meet a set of economic demands.