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Venezuela troops, chopper enter Colombia shooting: official

Agence France Presse

August 11, 2006 Friday 6:32 PM GMT | About 70 Venezuelan soldiers and a helicopter entered neighboring Colombia firing weapons near a settlement there, local officials said Friday.

The troops crossed the border near Cucuta, Colombia, in the settlement of Guaramito, some 640 kilometers (400 miles) north east of Bogota, according to Gladys Fuentes, a local authority at the settlement.

Police commander Humberto Henao said local residents heard gunshots fired by soldiers and from the helicopter in the direction of Colombians.

He said that group of police and prosecutors went to the area to determine exactly where the incident happened and then report to the Foreign Ministry in Bogota.

"With that data, they will evaluate where the helicopters were spotted and then make a final decision," he said.

Colombia and Venezuela share a 2,219-kilometer (1,400-mile) border, which is often crossed by troops of both countries, often in hot pursuit of drug traffickers, leftist rebels and rightist paramilitary armies, often flouting the law or by accident, creating a perpetual headache for the foreign ministries of the Caribbean neighbors.

On July 30, Colombia returned to Venezuela 10 solders who, Colombians said, had gotten lost.

Late last year, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe admitted that former Venezuelan soldiers plotted against President Hugo Chavez at a Colombian military facility.

Source Agence France Presse

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