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VENEZUELA: President Survives Assassination Attempt, Blames Colombia And US Expats In Florida

06 August 2018

In a statement, Denny described the attack as "horrendous", charging that it was aimed at destroying Venezuela's stability.

The little-known group Soldiers In T-shirts has claimed responsibility, saying it meant to fly two drones loaded with explosives at the president but they were shot down.

He said it was "a crime of terrorism and assassination" and that the "material and intellectual authors inside and outside the country" had been identified, with further arrests "in the coming hours" possible.

The attack highlights Maduro's challenges in maintaining control over the OPEC nation, where widespread food and medicine shortages have fuelled outrage and despair everywhere from hillside slums to military barracks.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, appearing on state television Sunday, said the attackers were aiming to decapitate Venezuela's entire top leadership along with Maduro.

The second drone lost control and crashed into a nearby building, Reverol added.

Two witnesses who live in nearby apartment buildings said they saw a drone hovering over a residential street Saturday evening and then heard an explosion.

The drones, according to officials, were flown towards Maduro as he addressed soldiers in Caracas on Saturday. He thought it might be a pyrotechnics display in honour of the event.

A senior Colombian official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said Maduro's accusation was "baseless". Bodyguards escorted him from the event, covering him in black shields, and TV footage showed uniformed soldiers break formation and scatter.

General Secretary of the Friends of Venezuela Solidarity Committee (Barbados) David Denny has strongly condemned Saturday's apparent assassination attempt against Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro.

"The name of Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack", the authoritarian Venezuelan leader said.

"It is contrary to military honour 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, which was passed to US-based opposition journalist Patricia Poleo, who read it on her YouTube channel.

"If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of USA criminal law, we will take a serious look at it", he added.

The BBC reported that Nestor Reverol said they were part of a group that loaded two drones with explosives and set them off during a military parade in the capital Caracas. The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified, and the organization did not respond to a message from the AP.

Both the Colombian government and the Trump administration, who have adversarial relationships with Venezuela's government, have rejected Maduro's accusations.

The firebrand leader sees his mission as carrying out the late Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution.

Maduro this year brought forward to May presidential elections that - after they were boycotted by the opposition and key opposition figures were declared ineligible - handed him a new six-year term. The opposition's most popular candidates were barred from running.

Maduro often accuses the opposition and the United States of working together to topple him.

He says the economic malaise gripping Venezuela is an "economic war" and any unrest is plotted by foreign powers.

Maduro "came out of it completely unharmed", he said.

In the midst of near-daily protests previous year, a rogue police officer flew a stolen helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at several government buildings. Oscar Perez and several comrades were later killed in a gun battle after over six months at large.

VENEZUELA: President Survives Assassination Attempt, Blames Colombia And US Expats In Florida