The Washington Post | 8/10/2009 12:00:00 AM
Colombia hands over captured Ecuador troops
Aug 10--Colombia on Sunday released 11 Ecuadorean troops a day after they were seized in Colombian territory at a time of heightened tensions between the Andean neighbors, authorities from both countries said.
Ecuador's Defense Minister Javier Ponce said the men were unarmed when they crossed the Putumayo River, which separates the countries along a jungle frontier.
"They crossed over to the other side of the frontier to buy some fish. Naturally they were detained by the Colombian armed forces," Ponce said. "Everything is calm. They were not armed and now they are back in the country."
Ties between U.S. ally Colombia and Ecuador have been tense since March last year, when Colombian troops penetrated Ecuadorean territory to kill a Colombian FARC rebel commander.
Since then, Colombia has accused Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa's leftist government of backing the FARC, and Correa has complained that Colombia was failing to prevent its fight against the Marxist rebels from spilling over the frontier.
The troop incident came as Correa hosts a regional summit of South America governments, where leaders will discuss Colombia's plans to expand U.S. troop presence at its military bases.
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