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Venezuela Orders Troops to Colombian Border


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered troops to his country's border with Colombia after the Colombian military entered Ecuador to attack FARC rebels.

Mr. Chavez said Sunday Colombia's incursion into Ecuador has pushed South America to the brink of war. Mr. Chavez ordered the closing of Venezuela's embassy in Bogota and the withdrawal of all its personnel.

Ecuador also recalled its ambassador from Bogota, leaving its trade representative in charge of the embassy.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said he does not believe the account of a Colombian cross-border attack offered by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Mr. Correa said President Uribe told him Colombian forces were in pursuit of FARC rebels who had fled into Ecuador. But President Correa says an examination of the rebel camp showed no evidence of a pursuit. The Ecuadorian president said it appeared the rebels were killed in their sleep in a jungle camp about two-kilometers from the Colombian border.

Mr. Correa said the Colombian president was either misinformed or lying.

Colombia said it was acting in its own defense early Saturday when it attacked the rebel camp and killed Raul Reyes, a spokesman and leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Seventeen rebels and one Colombian soldier were killed during the operation.

The death of the 59-year-old FARC leader Reyes is seen as a victory for Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe, who has been under increasing international pressure to ease Colombia's long-running conflict with the FARC.

The Colombian government has been negotiating the swap of jailed rebels for FARC-held hostages. Four hostages were released to Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday.

The leftist rebel group is believed to be holding about 750 hostages in jungle hideouts.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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