Venezuelan minister insists drone attack on Maduro was real

Tuesday, 07 Aug, 2018

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos "is behind the attack", his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro said Saturday after a rally was rocked by explosions.

The Associated Press reported that the six individuals are suspected of packing two drones with explosives, which exploded during a speech Maduro was giving at a military ceremony on Saturday.

Rodriguez said there was "an explosive charge. detonated close to the presidential podium" and in several other spots along the parade held in central Caracas.

The accusation was rejected by the Colombian Foreign Ministry, which called it "absurd". The cameras of the state-run television channel then cut away to pandemonium breaking out among assembled soldiers fleeing to seek cover. The group has said that its goal is to unite Venezuela's resistance groups, and they released a statement late Saturday in which they decried the state of the country under Maduro.

One of those arrested was wanted in connection with an earlier attack on a military installation, Reverol said.

Later Mr Maduro said the incident had strengthened his resolve. Another was previously arrested during anti-government protests in 2014, he said.

The claim was not backed up by any evidence, and the group did not respond to media requests for comment.

Joggers and cyclists were taking up two of the lanes that are traditionally used for weekend recreation.

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Maduro can take some solace in that a half-dozen bodyguards dashed on stage to cover him with bulletproof panels. One was "diverted" by security forces while the second fell on its own and hit an apartment building, Reverol said.

"Well, I can say unequivocally there is no US government involvement in this at all", Bolton said.

The security forces later took apart the vehicle and found what appeared to be remote controls, tablets and computers, said the two, who identified themselves as Andres and Karina, without giving their last names.

With inflation spiraling toward 1 million percent and shortages growing more acute, dozens of officers and soldiers have been arrested by the government in connection with alleged coup plots.

The government of the United States, which supported a failed coup against Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez in 2002, also denied any responsibility.

Saying a "shield of love" had protected his life, the president accused "far right" extremists linked to Colombia and Venezuelan dissidents living in the United States for the attack during an impassioned speech delivered three hours after the incident.

According to the BBC, Maduro has warned the perpetrators face "maximum punishment".

Maduro, a 55-year-old former bus driver, has effectively sidelined the fractured opposition through control of the courts and the electoral body - and unstinting support from the military, which holds key posts in his government.