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Smugglers blamed as Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro closes Colombia border

Published 22/08/2015

Smugglers cross the Tachira River carrying Venezuela petrol into Colombia, in Cucuta, at the border with Venezuela, in 2008 (AP)
Smugglers cross the Tachira River carrying Venezuela petrol into Colombia, in Cucuta, at the border with Venezuela, in 2008 (AP)

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has extended indefinitely the closure of a popular border crossing with Colombia and declared a 60-day state of emergency in several western cities.

Mr Maduro earlier in the week announced a 72-hour closure of the normally busy crossing in Tachira state in response to the shooting of three army officers while patrolling for smugglers.

On Friday night he said the crossing would remain closed until the assailants are caught.

He said the state of emergency would allow security forces to reassert control over the long-volatile border.

Mr Maduro blames smugglers and paramilitaries from Colombia for violence that has spilled over the 1,400-mile border in recent years.

Opponents criticised the move and said that it may be an attempt to thwart defeat in upcoming legislative elections.

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