Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

6 arrests made in Venezuela drone assassination plot; more likely

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with government officials at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas Venezuela Venezuela's President Maduro speaks during a meeting with government officials at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas Thomson Reuters
Jay Anderson | 06 August, 2018, 10:05

In this photo provided by the Miraflores Presidential Palace, President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a event marking the 81st anniversary of the National Guard, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, August 4, 2019.

QUESTIONS were asked yesterday about an apparent drone attack on Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, which he claimed was an assassination attempt.

Maduro's allies counter that the opposition has a history of involvement in military conspiracies, most notably in the 2002 coup that briefly toppled socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Nearby residents told The Associated Press that they saw a drone crash into a building and explode blocks from where Maduro was speaking in Caracas.

He described it as "a crime of terrorism and assassination" and said that the "material and intellectual authors inside and outside the country" had been identified.

Colombia also rejected Maduro's "absurd" accusation of involvement.

He said several conspirators were arrested in Venezuela, and appealed to President Donald Trump for help with arresting others connected to the attack in Miami.

Apparently in response, Bolton said, "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 later accused the neighboring nation of Colombia and elements within the United States for planning a "right-wing plot" to kill him, adding he has "no doubt" Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was "behind this attack".

"It was so strong the building shook", she said.

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 to the hundreds of troops, Reverol said.

Venezuela's government routinely accuses opposition activists of plotting to attack and overthrow Maduro, a deeply unpopular leader who was recently elected to a new term in office in a vote decried by dozens of nations.

Prosecutors have already launched their investigation and obtained critical details from the suspects in custody, said Saab, adding that he would give more details Monday.

"The few opposition voices remaining in Venezuela would be the first targets, as well as the citizens who support those opponents", Andrade said.

Meanwhile, an obscure four-year-old Venezuelan group calling itself the "National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts" has claimed responsibility for the blast, explaining that their two drones were shot down by government snipers. The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified, and the organization did not respond to a message from the AP.

"He will use it to concentrate power", Smilde said. He expects the incident to prompt a purge of disloyal officials by the regime, as well as further restrictions on Venezuelans' civil liberties. Maduro said at no point did he panic, confident the military would protect him.

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