Colombia says Venezuela troops crossed border illegally

Army says 15 members of Venezuela’s national guard illegally crossed the border in pursuit of a civilian in La Guajira.

The incident follows rising bilateral tensions after the Venezuelan president closed all major border crossings between the two nations [EPA]

Colombia’s army has denounced what it called an incursion by 15 members of Venezuela’s national guard whom, it said, illegally crossed the border in pursuit of a civilian.

The Venezuelan troops on Friday allegedly fired upon the individual while chasing him in a 4×4 vehicle nearly one kilometre deep into Colombian territory, near a rural hamlet in La Guajira province.

When the suspect took refuge in a residence, the troops burned the motorcycle on which he had fled before retreating back across the border, the Colombian army said in a statement.

Colombia broadcast images of the burned vehicle and ammunition shells on a dirt road where the confrontation allegedly took place.

The incident comes amid rising bilateral tensions after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro closed all major border crossings between the two countries and deported about 1,500 Colombians, whom he blames for widespread smuggling and crime.

Authorities in Venezuela have yet to respond, but they reacted angrily to complaints earlier in the week from Bogota that Venezuelan military planes violated the country’s airspace on two occasions, saying that such reports are baseless and an attempt by Colombia’s government to escalate the month-long crisis.

The Colombian army said it sent reinforcements to the town and would notify the foreign ministry so they could lodge a formal protest.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Maduro are both scheduled to travel to Ecuador on Monday for the first face-to-face meeting since the crisis began.

Expectations are low that the meeting will encourage Venezuela to reverse its decision to seal off much of the 2,200km border.

Source: AP


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