Venezuela charged that a 60-man Colombian military unit was “intercepted” just beyond the border inside Venezuelan territory on Friday.The Colombian soldiers were allegedly stopped 800 meters (yards) on the Venezuelan side of the border in the southeastern state of Apure and immediately ordered to leave, the Venezuelan government said in a statement.Venezuela described the incident as “an act of provocation,” and called on Colombia to “immediately halt these violations of international rights and of Venezuelan sovereignty and territorial integrity.”The government of leftist President Hugo Chavez said it was concerned because the incident happens at a time when the administration of conservative Colombian President Alvaro Uribe “is deliberately seeking to destabilize the region.”The Colombian military has been battling Marxist rebels who reportedly cross jungle borders to hide inside Venezuela and Ecuador.Uribe said his government was trying to confirm whether Colombian troops crossed the border.”I just learned about the government of Venezuela’s protest. We will ask the defense minister and high command to carefully examine it,” Uribe said at a news conference alongside visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”If it is true that our soldiers went in there, we will offer our apologies. If it is not true, we will give an explanation,” he said.The alleged incursion came two months after a diplomatic row erupted when the Colombian military attacked a FARC rebel camp just inside Ecuador on March 1.The strike prompted Chavez and Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa to deploy troops to their borders with Colombia.While the three sides agreed to end the crisis at a summit six days after the raid, tensions have lingered with Colombia charging that it recovered at the camp computer evidence of Ecuadoran and Venezuelan links to the rebels.Interpol confirmed Thursday the authenticity of the 38,000 computer files seized from Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).Bogota has said the data proves that FARC is “financed and armed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.”Chavez dismissed the Interpol report as a “clown show” that “doesn’t deserve serious comment.”
Colombia Reports relies on your financial support. Please become our patron and support independent reporting from Colombia.