From: Reuters
Published May 31, 2008 11:48 PM

Venezuela says troops kill Colombian "subversive"

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan troops killed a Colombian "subversive" in a border gun battle, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday, an incident that could fuel new tensions between the two countries.

The South American neighbors have maintained a war of words in recent months, with Venezuela accusing Colombia of trying to spark war and sending troops into its territory.

Chavez said the Venezuelan army exchanged gunfire with armed "subversives" near the border, but did not offer details on where the incident took place or which group was involved.

"They fired at each other and one (member) of the subversive group died," Chavez said during a televised speech.

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Marxist rebels and right-wing paramilitary gangs have for years roamed the isolated and loosely-patrolled border region.

Uribe's government has repeatedly accused Chavez of sheltering FARC guerrillas, charges the leftist Chavez dismisses as Washington-sponsored propaganda.

Colombia in March bombed a rebel camp in Ecuador, where leftist guerrillas often hide from Colombian forces, leading Chavez to break off diplomatic ties with Colombia and sparking the Andean region's worst crisis in a decade.

The conflict highlighted the growing rift between leftist leaders such as Chavez and Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Colombia's rightist, pro-Washington Uribe.

Chavez recently said he was carrying out a "profound review" of ties with Colombia and warned he could seek new trade partners to replace some of the $6 billion in bilateral commerce between the nations.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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