Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Saturday he escaped an “assassination attempt” and accused his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos of being behind a plot involving people living in the United States.
Drones laden with explosives exploded Saturday in the center of the capital, Caracas, near the place where was held a military ceremony during which Nicolas Maduro gave a speech, announced the Minister of Information earlier.
Jorge Rodriguez said that the head of state and other members of the government were unharmed, and that seven soldiers of the National Guard had been wounded.
A witness, who was visiting his family near the scene of the event, told Reuters he heard two explosions.
A little known group, called “National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts”, claimed the attack via a series of messages on social networks.
He said he planned to fly two drones but that they were shot by snipers.
“We have demonstrated their vulnerability, we have not had success today, but it’s just a matter of time,” said the group, which says it was founded in 2014 to bring together all resistance “from Venezuela.
The group did not respond to Reuters requests for information.
While Nicolas Maduro was speaking about the Venezuelan economy, the sound was abruptly cut off, before the head of state and others at his side on the platform raised their eyes to the sky, could we see on the images broadcast live on television. Several soldiers started to run. The retransmission was then interrupted.
Bodyguards protected President Maduro with bulletproof panels, show photos posted on social networks.
Later in the evening, Nicolas Maduro explained that a flying machine had exploded in front of him during his speech and that a second explosion had then occurred.
“They tried to kill me,” he said in a televised address.
An investigation was launched immediately after the attack, he added, and “everything indicated” that it was a plot of which Colombia, neighboring country, was at the origin.
Colombian President “Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack,” Maduro assured, without proving these accusations.
People who contributed to the financing and organization of the attack live in Florida, a US state where many Venezuelans are expatriates, he said.
Nicolas Maduro asked his American counterpart Donald Trump to “fight these terrorist groups”.
The United States, which had said in May not to recognize the results of the Venezuelan presidential election, “are following the situation closely,” said a senior US State Department official.
A source in the Colombian government said Nicolas Maduro’s accusations were “absurd” and Juan Manuel Santos celebrated his granddaughter’s baptism on Saturday.
“He was thinking of nothing else, let alone bringing down foreign governments,” said the source.
Nicolas Maduro, 55, who presents himself as the “son” of the charismatic Hugo Chavez who died in 2013, was re-elected as the country’s president in May after a ballot that the opposition considers rigged.
It ensures to face an “imperialist” plot whose stake would be Venezuelan oil resources. His detractors, who claim to be victims of a campaign of political repression, hold him solely responsible for the economic ruin of a once flourishing country.
Last year, a former police pilot took possession of a helicopter to strafe official buildings to protest Maduro’s “criminal” government, whose resignation he demanded. Oscar Perez, who claimed to represent a coalition of military, police and anti-government officials, was killed last January during a security force operation.