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Colombia denounces 2nd flyover by Venezuelan military planes

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP):

The Colombia government on Monday denounced what it said was the second incursion into its territory by Venezuelan military planes in less than 24 hours.

General Carlos Bueno, the head of Colombia's air force, said that a radar unit detected a Venezuelan military aircraft overflying the eastern province of Vichada on Sunday about 10 p.m. He said at a press conference on Monday that the pilot remained in Colombian airspace

for about 10 minutes, communicating with air traffic controllers that he was obliged to deviate from its course due to bad weather, even though the protocol for such emergencies wasn't followed properly.

The incident occurred just hours after two planes were spotted crossing nearly three kilometres (1.8 mile) into Colombian territory near the Caribbean coast.

The allegations come at a time of tense relations as Venezuelan President Nicol┬Ěs Maduro closes much of the border between the two countries and has expelled some 1,400 Colombians as part of a anti-smuggling crackdown.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez on Sunday denied the first incursion, saying it was a made-up allegation to derail a potential meeting between the countries' presidents to resolve the almost month-old dispute.

Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino called on Venezuela's military to be on high alert, saying Colombia was seeking to provoke an incident on the border. He also said that some 6,000 troops had been sent to Venezuela's western edge to improve security.