Venezuela hands over almost 800 Colombians for deportation in border crackdown

Venezuelan security forces have rounded up hundreds of Colombians for deportation as part of a security offensive along the countries' shared border.

Gov. Jose Gregorio Vielma Mora of Tachira state said Sunday that 791 Colombians living in Venezuela illegally had been handed over to Colombia's consulate general as a result of the crackdown against smugglers and criminal gangs operating along the 1,400 mile (2,200 kilometer) border.

President Nicolas Maduro last week closed a major crossing between the two countries and declared a state of emergency in several western cities after three army officers were shot and wounded by still-uncaught gunmen he said belonged to paramilitary gangs operating from Colombia.

Colombia's foreign ministry on Sunday called on Venezuela to respect the rights of deportees to assure families aren't broken up.