Venezuelan warplanes cross into Colombian airspace

The Colombian defense ministry has said that Venezuelan warplanes crossed several kilometres into Colombian airspace amid a border crisis between the neighbours.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 14, 2015, 05:46 AM IST

Bogota: The Colombian defense ministry has said that Venezuelan warplanes crossed several kilometres into Colombian airspace amid a border crisis between the neighbours.

Air force radars "detected the entry to Colombian territory of two Venezuelan military aircraft in the Alta Guajira zone" on the northern border with Venezuela on Saturday afternoon, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The planes, it said, entered Colombia for nearly three kilometres and then flew over an army unit.

The ministry did not describe the type of aircraft detected.

Bogota and Caracas have been in a spiralling row since Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro closed part of their shared border on August 19, blaming Colombian paramilitaries for an attack on a Venezuelan anti-smuggling patrol.

Maduro accused Colombia of waging an "attack on Venezuela's economy," a reference to the rampant smuggling of heavily subsidised goods out of the oil-rich but shortage-hit socialist country.

Venezuela has deported some 1,500 Colombians living in Venezuela since the crisis began, and more than 18,500 others have fled in fear, the United Nations said.

The foreign ministers of Colombia and Venezuela met in Ecuador on Saturday in an attempt to resolve their differences, and while they agreed to renew diplomatic contacts after ambassadors were withdrawn, they failed to agree on a meeting between the two country's presidents.

In 2010, troops were rushed to the border after the Colombian president accused Venezuela of giving safe haven to leftist Colombian guerrillas.
The crisis was defused when Colombia's current president, Juan Manuel Santos, took office.