Mon, Aug 06, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Maduro says he escaped drone ‘assassination’

AFP, CARACAS

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he was “more determined than ever” after he escaped an “assassination” attempt using an explosive-laden drone as he gave a speech at a military parade in the capital, Caracas.

Seven soldiers were wounded in the alleged attack on Saturday, blamed on Colombia by Maduro and later claimed by a mysterious rebel group.

“I am fine, I am alive and after this attack I’m more determined than ever to follow the path of the revolution,” Maduro said of the incident, from which he escaped unharmed.

“Justice. Maximum punishment. And there will be no forgiveness,” he said in an address to the nation, sparking fears of an anti-opposition offensive in a country already reportedly holding about 248 political prisoners.

Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, also present at the parade, said those arrested in connection with the incident would be identified today.

“There will be a ruthless punishment,” he said.

Venezuelan state television showed Maduro looking up disconcertedly in the middle of a speech having heard a bang, before members of the country’s National Guard lined up in the parade suddenly scattered.

“It was an attack to kill me, they tried to assassinate me today,” he said in a state broadcast, speaking of a “flying object [that] exploded in front of me.”

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.

Drones might have been released from a nearby apartment that suffered a fire after one exploded, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.

However, other versions of events attributed the fire to the accidental explosion of a gas cylinder.

The government pointed the blame at “the ultra-right wing” — its term for the opposition.

Late on Saturday, a civilian and military rebel group calling itself the “National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts” claimed responsibility for the alleged attack.

“It is contrary to military honor to keep in government those who not only have forgotten the constitution, but who have also made public office an obscene way to get rich,” the group said in a statement passed to US-based opposition journalist Patricia Poleo, who read it on her YouTube channel.

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