Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has escaped an attempted assassination carried out by explosive-laden drones as he presided over a parade in Caracas.
According to reports, Maduro was delivering a speech at a parade celebrating the 81st anniversary of the Venezuelan National Guard Saturday when two drones approached the grandstand in which Maduro was standing.
An event televised nationally, video of the incident shows Maduro and his wife swarmed by bodyguards and participants in the parade fleeing chaotically.
Seven Venezuelan military personnel were reported injured in the blast.
Fleeing the scene unscathed, Maduro vowed to round up plotters and assured citizens he was not injured in the attack in a national address following the incident.
“I am fine, I am alive, and after this attack I’m more determined than ever to follow the path of the revolution. Justice! Maximum punishment! And there will be no forgiveness,” Maduro said in his speech.
In the same televised speech, Maduro blamed domestic political opponents, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and a shadowy cabal of unnamed Florida “financiers” for instigating a “right-wing plot” against his government.
Maduro also called on President Trump for assistance in the investigation and to fight “terrorist groups” which attack “peaceful” countries in South America.
Claims leveled with no evidence, the Colombian government responded to Maduro on Sunday, denying complicity and dismissed the claim as “baseless.”
In similar fashion, National Security Adviser John Bolton denied American involvement during an appearance on Fox News Sunday:
“If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of U.S. criminal law, we’ll take a serious look at it, but in the meantime I think what we really should focus on is the corruption and oppression in the Maduro regime in Venezuela.”
Amid the investigation in which Venezuelan authorities announced six persons had been arrested in connection with the explosions which were planned both in Miami, Fla., and Bogota, Colombia, conflicting accounts have surfaced over what caused the explosions.
While Maduro’s government blames an alleged assassination attempt, according to the AP, firefighters battling the resulting fire say the explosion was caused by a gas tank exploding near the parade route.
The differing version of events has given rise to the theory the entire incident was staged by Maduro as a pretext to initiate a crackdown on internal opposition to his rule.
[BBC] [Fox News] [New York Post] [CBS News] [Photo courtesy Picture Alliance/Xinhua News Agency via Deutsche Welle]