Venezuelan troops enter Colombia illegally

Soldiers from Venezuelan National Guard cross illicitly into Colombian borders and fire their weapons amid growing diplomatic crisis between two countries

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Venezuelan and Colombian troops stand guard at a border crossing

Updated Sep 20, 2015

Members of the Venezuelan National Guard crossed into Colombian borders illicitly and fired their weapons, as the tensions have flared between the two countries over the Venezuelan border closure, Colombian army said on Friday.

A group of 15 Venezuelan soldiers from the national guard crossed into Maicao municipality in eastern La Guajira province of Colombia, which is located, one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the Colombian-Venezuelan border.

According to a statement from the Colombian army, the national guard members crossed the border to track a suspect. They fired shots from inside of a 4x4 until the suspect entered private property. Following the pursuit, the soldiers set his motorcycle on fire and returned to Venezuelan territory.

Residents of the province said they were mistreated by Venezuelan soldiers.

The Colombian army sent reinforcements to remain in the province as a security measure.

Venezuela has not made a comment about the incident.   

The tension between two neighbouring countries have remained tense, following the Venezuelan attempt to close the main part of the border and deport over 1,500 Colombian citizens, allegedly due to criminal activities.

The closure of the border came after three Venezuelan soldiers were killed in an ambush on 19 August, while performing an anti-smuggling operation in Tachira's border town of San Antonio.

"I want to express my rejection, pain, by this attack. This ambush that occurred against three young lieutenants, soldiers of our homeland," Maduro said in a televised address.

Colombia is major cocaine producer in an area which produces 300 tons annually. Cocaine cartels use Venezuela as an open market to sell their products.  

Maduro regularly says that smugglers and paramilitaries who have been active in the border and are allegedly linked with the former Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe.

Earlier on Friday, a Venezuelan fighter jet crashed near the Colombian border while monitoring an “illicit aircraft” which was reportedly linked with drug trafficking.

In the incident which took place in the border state of Apure, a Russian-made Sukhoi-30 jet was totally destroyed, leaving two pilots dead on board.

Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino said in a statement that "an illicit aircraft entered via the northwestern region on its course to the south towards the border with Colombia, an area where mafias linked to narco-trafficking want to use our territory as a distribution platform for drugs produced in the neighboring country."

TRTWorld and agencies