October 25, 2009 / 6:39 PM / 9 years ago

Colombian soccer players found dead in Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela said on Sunday at least 10 members of an amateur Colombian soccer team had been found dead after being kidnapped on its side of the border.

Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez told reporters the men were found with bullet wounds in various parts of the western state of Tachira, on the border between the two South American neighbors.

One of the 12 men survived the ordeal, while another was still missing, Venezuelan authorities said.

Kidnappings and armed disputes are rife on both sides of the frontier, where Colombian guerrilla groups, paramilitary militia and criminal gangs all operate.

Carrizalez said the deaths of the football players, whom local media have said were local tradesmen seized on Oct. 11 while in Venezuela for a game, were related to Colombia’s internal conflict. He gave no further details.

The incident adds another complication to fractious ties between the two countries. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez broke off relations and minimized trade earlier this year due to Colombia’s acceptance of U.S. military bases on its soil.

Reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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