VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro emerged unscathed from an assassination attempt last night when drones armed with explosives detonated as he addressed hundreds of soldiers live on national television.
Local residents said they saw a drone crashing into a block of flats, falling and then exploding, starting a fire. They then heard a second blast and saw black smoke rising.
Bodyguards swiftly ushered the president and his wife Cilia Flores to safety before Mr Maduro emerged to assess the events.
“This was an attempt to kill me. Today they attempted to assassinate me,” he commented.
Seven military personnel were reportedly injured in the explosions.
The president accused the “far right” working in co-ordination with “intellectual authors” and financiers behind the plan in Bogota and Miami, including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, of being responsible.
“The investigation will get to the bottom of this,” he declared, pointing out that “a Venezuela in conflict, in civil war, is what US imperialism is seeking.”
President Maduro said a number of suspects had been arrested and were being processed.
“I tell the Venezuelan opposition that I guarantee you can live in this country peacefully. If something happens to me, you will have to face millions of campesinos and humble people making justice with their own hands.
“I am alive and I can tell you that, after this attempt, I am even more determined to fight for the revolution.”
US President Donald Trump’s adviser stated “unequivocally” that “there was no US government involvement in this at all, suggesting: “It could be a lot of things from a pretext set up by the Maduro regime itself to something else.”
Bolivian President Evo Morales was among the first to comment on the assassination attempt, tweeting: “After the failure in their attempt to overthrow him democratically, economically, politically and militarily, now the empire and its servants threaten his life.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry considered “categorically unacceptable the use of terrorist methods as instruments of political struggle.”
The Spanish government underlined its “firm condemnation of the use of any type of violence for political purposes” and expressed its desire for “prompt recovery” of the wounded.
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