Friday, November 20, 2009

Venezuela: Venezuela ups the ante by blowing up footbridges to Colombia

FOCUS Information Agency - Venezuelan soldiers on Thursday blew up two makeshift foot bridges that stretched across the border to Colombia in the latest incident to stoke a diplomatic dispute between the Andean neighbors, Reuters reported.

Colombia's government criticized the destruction of the bridges as an aggression and a violation of international law, which it would denounce at the United Nations and the Organization of American States in Washington.

The long-simmering Andes spat has been mostly limited to diplomatic barbs in the past. But the current crisis is raising the risk of more violence along the volatile frontier where rebels, drug gangs and smugglers operate.

General Eusebio Aguero, Venezuela's army commander in the Tachira border region, ordered his soldiers to destroy the bridges using explosives. He said the crossings were unauthorized and used for illegal activities.

"They are two foot bridges that paramilitary fighters used, where gasoline and drug precursors were smuggled, subversive groups entered," he told reporters, adding that several other bridges would be destroyed. "They are not considered in any international treaty."

Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said troops from the Venezuelan army arrived in trucks and dynamited the bridges that cross into Colombia's Norte de Santander department.
The Colombian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "This is a unilateral act and an aggression against the civilian population and the frontier communities."

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