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  HOME | Venezuela (Click here for more Venezuela news)

Venezuela Confirms 10 Massacred Were Kidnapped Colombia Soccer Team

CARACAS -- The Venezuelan government confirmed Sunday that the 10 bodies found earlier this weekend near the border with Colombia are those of the Colombians kidnapped earlier this month.

All the bodies bore gunshot wounds and they were found in different spots in the border state of Tachira, Vice President and Defense Minister Ramon Carrizalez said in a press conference.

Of the 12 people kidnapped two weeks ago - 10 Colombians, a Peruvian and a Venezuelan - the 10 Colombians "were executed," another was found wounded and the last one "has not turned up," Carrizzalez said without specifying the nationalities of the latter two.

"Nothing justifies" this deed, Carrizalez said, adding that the theory is gaining strength that the victims and their abductors were part of a group of Colombian irregular fighters who were using Venezuela as a place to settle their internal conflicts.

"There are interesting elements that are appearing in the investigation, which could point toward the confrontation" among them, Carrizalez said.

"The brutality of these deeds is the brutality with which the internal conflict in Colombia is developing, and Venezuela - who does not want to be involved in it - is feeling its effects," the vice president said.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Sunday offered to collaborate with Venezuelan authorities and provide them with whatever they need to identify and punish those responsible for the massacre.

Uribe blamed "terrorists" for the killings.

"This deplorable act shows that terrorism is international, that it doesn't have borders," Uribe said in a press conference at the air force base in Bogota.

The discovery of the bodies was reported Saturday by the press in Tachira.

Members of the Los Maniceros (The Peanut Vendors) soccer team were playing on an improvised soccer field in the town of Chururu, some 850 kilometers (528 miles) west of Caracas, on Oct. 11 when about 25 heavily armed men suddenly drove up.

The gunmen asked the referee for the list of players on the Los Maniceros team, called out the players' names, lined them up and took them to an unknown destination, police said.

Several illegal armed groups, including leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and drug traffickers operate in the border region, a lawless area where kidnappings and other crimes are common.

 

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