Guyana puts troops on alert amid Venezuela tension

Guyana says troops 'vigilant' amid reports that Venezuelans plan to cross disputed border

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- The government of Guyana says it has placed its troops on alert after a report Venezuelan soldiers might cross into territory held by Guyana.

Defense Secretary Roger Luncheon says Guyana's military was told to remain "vigilant," during a planned visit by Venezuelan opposition officials under military protection to a Guyana-held area claimed by both South American countries along the Essequibo River.

Guyana's government has not taken such a step since 1982, when Venezuelan military planes flew over an area it has claimed in a border dispute that goes back decades.

Luncheon said Thursday there has been a surge of nationalistic rhetoric among candidates in Venezuela's upcoming municipal elections.

In October, Venezuela detained a ship chartered by a U.S. oil company that had an exploration concession from Guyana in disputed waters.