Friday evening, Colombian President Ivan Duque released a statement indicating that the presidential helicopter, a US made Sikorsky Black Hawk, received ground fire after approaching the border city of Cúcuta traveling from the hamlet of Sardinata in Colombia’s troubled Catatumbo region.
“I want to inform the country that, after fulfilling a commitment in Sardinata, in the Colombian Catatumbo, and approaching to land in the city of Cúcuta, the presidential helicopter was the victim of an attack,” said President Duque, after landing.
“The Minister of Defense, the Minister of the Interior, the Governor of Norte de Santander and myself were in the helicopter. Both the aerial device and the aircraft’s capabilities prevented something lethal from happening. The truth is that it is a cowardly attack, where bullet holes are seen in the presidential aircraft, he added.”
Catatumbo is a region in the Norte de Santander department bordering Venezuela and has long been a center of operations for both leftist guerillas like the ELN nd EPL as well as narcotics mafias. In recent years the government has been ineffective at providing a civil security and law enforcement presence in the region.
According to the government, the helicopter received 6 bullet impacts but was able to fly to safety. The Black Hawk is a military helicopter designed to function in combat situations, first used by the US Military.
“We will continue working every day and demonstrating that the State is present anywhere in the territory. I have also given very clear instructions to the entire security team to go after those who shot at the aircraft and also put other people’s lives at risk,” said Duque.
Minister of Defense Diego Molano has announced a reward of up to 3 billion pesos ($796,000 USD) for information leading to the capture of the shooters. Security forces are already searching the Cúcuta neighborhoods near Cúcuta’s Camilo Daza international airport.
Photos taken from government video