Protesters torch cars at Colombia-Venezuela border

Demonstrators in Colombia set several vehicles ablaze at a Venezuela border crossing Tuesday in protest over the Venezuelan-ordered night-time shutdown of the vast frontier, an official said.

Bogota: Demonstrators in Colombia set several vehicles ablaze at a Venezuela border crossing Tuesday in protest over the Venezuelan-ordered night-time shutdown of the vast frontier, an official said.

Dozens of protesters set three cars and two motorcycles on fire at the border crossing in Cucuta, in the North Santander department, local ombudsman William Gonzalez said.

Venezuela first ordered the night-time border shutdown on August 11 to try to stem the flow of contraband gasoline and other heavily subsidized products to Colombia.

"Protesters are calling these closures excessive," Gonzalez said. "They are confiscating absolutely everything."

It was the fourth such protest, he added, but was the first time vehicles had been burned.

Venezuela is sealing the 2,200-kilometer (1,400-mile) border every night from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am.

It is using the military to enforce the shutdown to stop Venezuelan products flowing into Colombia and contributing to shortages of many basic goods, a huge political problem for the leftist government in Caracas.

Oil-rich Venezuela has the world`s cheapest gas, as well as price controls that keep goods like rice and toilet paper up to 10 times cheaper than in Colombia.

But Gonzalez said contraband continues to flow through alternative smuggling routes.

"This is not an impactful measure," he said.

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