The Venezuelan government has denounced an attempted "maritime invasion" on the coast near Caracas that left eight dead and two arrested, which the opposition described as a set-up. On Sunday, Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said "mercenaries" had tried to enter the country through the state of La Guaira, close to the Venezuelan capital, reports Efe news.

"In the early hours of this May 3, a group of terrorist mercenaries from Colombia tried to carry out an invasion by sea with the aim of committing terrorist acts in the country," the Minister said.

Colombian government rejects charges

The alleged invaders were also planning to "murder of leaders of the revolutionary government, increase the spiral of violence, generate chaos and confusion among the population and thereby lead to a new attempted coup", he added.

The Colombian government rejected the charges, saying: "It's an unfounded accusation that attempts to involve the Colombian government in a speculative plot." The President of the National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, later said that there were "confrontations" and some people may have escaped, so a search was underway.

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"When they arrived at the coast there were confrontations and we don't know if there are people who sank or swam elsewhere, so we're saying that, so far, there are eight dead," Cabello said.

Regarding the detainees, he said that one of them, a Venezuelan, admitted to having worked with the US Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency expelled from the country in 2005 and which the so-called Bolivarian Revolution in power in Venezuela accuses of promoting drug trafficking and coups d'etat in Latin America.

Actions "are just beginning" warns group

A group that identifies itself as that of the Venezuelan military, with some retired members, has released several videos on Twitter in which they claim responsibility for the attack while warning that these actions "are just beginning".

"Join this liberating feat, let's reestablish together peace and freedom and the constitutional thread," said Robert Colina Parra, alias Pantera, who identified himself in one of the videos as captain of the Bolivarian National Guard, accompanied by 17 other uniformed men.

The Venezuelan opposition, led by Juan Guaido, has distanced itself from the attack and considers it a "false positive" created by the Maduro government to act against those who are politically opposed to it.

Opposition calls complain a "fabricated set-up"

"The military or civilians allegedly extrajudicially executed by the dictatorship and their bodies have been used to create a false positive," an opposition statement said.

The document, which claims to represent the position of the "legitimate government" of Venezuela headed by Guaido contemplates another scenario where the incident was "a criminal act manipulated by the dictatorship to continue the persecution" of the opposition.

The opposition classifies the government complaint as a "fabricated set-up" with which the executive intends to "divert attention" from other events, such as a prison riot on Friday in the northwest of Venezuela that left at least 50 inmates dead.