More than a thousand Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia on Saturday night over rumors of an imminent turf war between illegal armed groups in their town, according to authorities.
The migrants fled Boca de Grita, a town near the Colombian border city of Cucuta, and illegally crossed into Colombia late at night when the border was closed.
The particular rumor turned out to be a false alarm, border violence in the region of Catuca is commonplace and has put the locals on edge.
Last week, a shootout between Colombian illegal armed group in the migrant’s hometown killed at least 10 people.
‘At least 10 dead in clashes between Colombian illegal armed groups in Venezuela’
Many of the migrants knew friends or family on the other side of the border and slept at their homes over the weekend. But at least two hundred migrants, including dozens of children, had no place to stay. Local residents and Colombian authorities set up a temporary camp in a nearby Coliseum to give them shelter.
The Venezuelans were slowly returned back to their homes as it became clear that the rumors were unfounded, according to Colombian authorities.
The rates of extortion and murder in the region rank among the highest in both Venezuela and Colombia. Wars are often fought over territory here between a variety of criminal organizations, paramilitaries, and guerrillas.
Group active in the border region
- ELN (Colombia)
- Rastrojos (Colombia)
- AGC (Colombia)
- “Colectivos” (Venezuela)
- 33rd Front (Colombia)
Typically, these groups fight to stake out territories in the dozens of dense jungle trails which authorities have little control over.