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Chavez: Colombian agents captured in Venezuela

Chavez: Colombian agents captured in Venezuela

Venezuela has captured two Colombian spies and will put them on trail for conducting espionage within its territory, President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday.
Colombia's security agency denied sending any agents into Venezuela.
Chavez, who has had strained relations with the U.S.-allied Colombian government, said the agents were involved in a U.S.-backed plot to gather information regarding Venezuela's military and government-organized militias.
"It's an indication of plans against Venezuela, and behind them is the CIA and U.S. empire," Chavez said. "They will be tried according to Venezuelan laws with all their rights."
Chavez said officials believe the agents were using fake names.
Venezuelan authorities earlier said the agents were purportedly helping investigate the killings of 10 men who were abducted from a soccer field in Venezuela near the Colombian border.
During a televised speech, Chavez lamented the killings and said authorities were investigating. A lone survivor of the killings is helping Venezuelan officials in the investigation, the president said.
"We have him out of danger and he's well guarded," Chavez added.
Colombia's ambassador to Caracas, Maria Luisa Chiappe, said she had no information about agents from her country's DAS security agency working in Venezuelan territory.
The DAS issued a statement saying it did not authorize any of its personnel to enter Venezuela. "Agents are expressly prohibited from crossing into that country's territory," it said.
Chavez chided the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for allowing Colombia's decades-long armed conflict to spill over into Venezuela, suggesting the slayings of the 10 men were the product of a confrontation between illegal armed groups from Colombia.
"We're sorry they died in Venezuelan territory, but the crime came from there," he said. "A confrontation between groups, there's no doubt."
The detention of the alleged Colombian agents is bound to further exacerbate tensions between Caracas and Bogota.
Diplomatic relations between the two South American neighbors have been tense for months due to Colombia's accusations that Chavez has supported Colombian rebels and Venezuela's objections to a pending agreement that would allow the United States to increase its military presence in Colombia.