Venezuela arrests six 'terrorists' over attempted Maduro hit

VENEZUELA-POLITICS-MADURO

Maduro has vowed"maximum punishment for those involved in alleged plot

An assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was committed with the use of several drones stuffed with explosives.

On social media the group said they had planned to fly the drones at Maduro but they were shot down by the military, although they have not backed up their claim with evidence.

Gonzalez said she next saw a drone hit the same building mentioned by the other witness and then fall.

But the military managed to knock one of the drones off-course electronically and the other crashed into apartment building two blocks away from where Maduro was speaking.

Arreaza echoed the details made by the interior minister about the attack which included two drones that carried a kilo of explosives c4 capable of effective damage within a radius of 50 meters.

The US State Department dismissed the accusations while rights group Venezuela Justice said a subsequent purge of the country's armed forces resulted in 150 people being jailed "for political reasons".

He also blamed Venezuelans living in the United States.


Meanwhile the Colombian government has put the blame at the door of "the ultra-right wing" - its term for the opposition.

As for Maduro's accusations that the alleged perpetrators are in Florida and Colombia, Andrade said that this is part of the "stigmatized Cuban script that is always the fault of the Miami and now Bogota groups". Denouncing an "assassination" attempt, Maduro insisted he was "more determined than ever".

A video of the incident at 5:40 p.m. Saturday showed first lady Cilia Flores looking up from beside Maduro and putting her hand to her heart, appearing frightened, after an apparent explosion.

The incident was later claimed by a group calling itself the "National Movement of Soldiers in Shirts".

With inflation spiraling toward 1 million percent and shortages growing more acute, dozens of officers and soldiers have been arrested by the government in connection with alleged coup plots.

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton told "Fox News Sunday" that he can state "unequivocally" that "there was no U.S. government involvement in this at all".

The minister said that such drones, a model known as DJI M600, are commonly used for "industrial jobs" and capable of lifting relatively heavy loads, such as a video camera and a recording kit.


Colina, a retired lieutenant in the National Guard, said there's real "fear" that Maduro and his allies will strike out against opponents.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton told "Fox News Sunday" that, "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'll take a serious look at it".

Maduro said at no point did he panic, confident the military would protect him.

Neither the state leader nor the top government officials were injured in the explosion, he said.

The head of the assembly, Diosdado Cabello, tweeted that Maduro and the assembled military chiefs had survived a "terrorist attack" he blamed on the opposition. The Colombian government has denied any involvement in the attack.

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.


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