Eighteen soldiers killed in Venezuela helicopter crash

May 4th, 2009 - 3:23 am ICT by IANS  

Caracas, May 4 (DPA) A Venezuelan military helicopter crashed near the country’s border with Colombia killing 18 soldiers, President Hugo Chavez said Sunday.
One general, 16 soldiers and one civilian died in the crash, Chavez said on Alo Presidente (Hello President), his weekly broadcast to the nation. The soldiers were patrolling the border between Venezuela and Colombia.

The men died while “serving the fatherland”, Chavez said as he sent condolences to the families of the victims.

He also used the opportunity to take a swipe at the United States, refuting US allegations that Venezuela wasn’t doing enough along its border with Colombia to prevent incursions from leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“The US accuses us of not having the border under control. How many Venezuelan lives have already been claimed in the Colombian conflict? Today 18 Venezuelan soldiers have died while patrolling the border,” Chavez said.

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