WASHINGTON--The U.S. military on Sunday accused a Venezuelan fighter aircraft of "aggressively" shadowing a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II plane over international airspace, a fresh sign of growing hostility between the two countries.
The encounter between the two planes occurred on Friday, the same day that the Trump administration announced it was imposing sanctions on four top officials in Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency.
In a statement issued Sunday, the U.S. military said that it had determined the "Russian-made fighter aggressively shadowed the EP-3 at an unsafe distance in international airspace for a prolonged period of time, endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing the EP-3 mission."
The two planes did not collide and no one was hurt in the incident. The U.S. military did not give details of the EP-3's mission nor say where the encounter took place.
In a statement published on Sunday by Venezuela's government, the South American country's armed forces said they rejected "the incursion of a U.S. reconnaissance and intelligence aircraft" in the flight area surrounding Maiquetia airport, which serves the capital city of Caracas. The U.S. aircraft was detected in Venezuelan airspace on Friday morning and did not report its presence to local authorities, the statement said, adding that it posed a risk to other planes in the area.
At 11.33 a.m. local time two Venezuelan fighter jets intercepted the aircraft and it was escorted out of Venezuela's airspace, the statement said.