Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro escapes assassination attempt made through drone strike
CARACAS - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Saturday he escaped an "assassination" attempt using an explosive-laden drone, after a live broadcast showed him looking confused when a bang went off during a Caracas military parade and dozens of soldiers scuttling for safety.
His government said seven soldiers were wounded in the incident.
"It was an attack to kill me, they tried to assassinate me today," Maduro said in a later state broadcast, speaking of a "flying object (that) exploded in front of me."
He said some of those involved were arrested and an investigation under way.
Maduro accused neighboring Colombia and unidentified "financiers" in the United States, while some of his officials blamed Venezuela´s opposition.
Colombia denied any involvement. A senior Colombian official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said Maduro´s accusation was "baseless."
Venezuelan state television images showed Maduro looking up disconcertedly in the middle of a speech Saturday when a bang was heard, then uniformed members of the country´s National Guard lined up in the parade suddenly breaking ranks and scattering.
No drones could be seen in the television broadcast, which showed bodyguards jumping in front of Maduro to protect him with flexible ballistic shields. The broadcast was quickly cut.
"This is an attack against President Nicolas Maduro," Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez said.
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.
Maduro "came out of it completely unharmed," he said.
The government pointed the finger at "the ultra-right wing" -- its term for the opposition.
But Maduro said: "I have no doubt that the name (Colombian President) Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack."
He added that initial investigations "indicate that various of those financing it live in the United States, in the state of Florida. I hope that President Donald Trump is ready to fight these terrorist groups." - APP/AFP