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Venezuela accuses Colombia of spying on it

Hugo Chavez's government says its neighbor's DAS security agency is using the investigation into the killing of eight Colombian soccer players as a pretense.

October 27, 2009|Associated Press

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — President Hugo Chavez's government accused Colombia on Monday of using its state security agency to spy on Venezuela while purportedly helping investigate the killings of eight Colombians.

Venezuela sent a diplomatic protest note saying officials of Colombia's DAS agency were "detected carrying out espionage work and attempting to bribe."

Venezuela did not give details but said authorities had seized documents referring to a conspiracy to destabilize its government.

Colombia has offered help in investigating the slayings of 10 men -- eight Colombians, a Venezuelan and a Peruvian -- whose bodies were found in the western Venezuelan border state of Tachira on Saturday. Venezuelan authorities say relatives told them the men were kidnapped from a soccer field where their team was playing near the border Oct. 11.

The killings, which Venezuela says were probably carried out by one of the warring factions in Colombia's conflict, appear to be exacerbating already hostile relations between Chavez's government and the U.S.-allied administration in Bogota.

Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said it remained unclear who killed the men, or why. He said there were various hypotheses, including that the violence involved criminal organizations, guerrillas or militias.

A 19-year-old Colombian survived the attack and was hospitalized in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, with a gunshot wound to the neck.

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