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Bush Extends Colombia Drug Interdiction Program

President Bush has authorized the United States to continue helping Colombia ground or even shoot down suspected drug flights.

A White House statement Wednesday said Mr. Bush authorized the State Department to continue aid to the so-called "Airbridge Denial Program."

The statement said the president has determined that Colombia has put in place appropriate procedures to protect against the loss of innocent life during interdiction operations.

Colombia and Peru are in the Airbridge Denial Program. It was suspended after a Peruvian fighter jet shot down a U.S. missionary plane in April 2001 after mistaking it for a drug-smuggling flight. The program resumed over Colombia in 2003.

Colombia has received more than three billion dollars in U.S. aid over the past five years in an effort to wipe out cocaine and heroin production and crush the long-running leftist insurgency.

Some information for this story provided by AP and Reuters.