Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro has survived, what officials have called an apparent drone assassination attempt during a speech he was making at a military event. Government officials described drones armed with explosives detonating overhead after they were flown towards Maduro as he spoke to soldiers in Venezuela’s capital Caracas on Saturday afternoon.
“I am alive and victorious”
In the video footage, you can see president Maduro and his wife being caught off guard in the middle of his speech. They looked up in the sky and winced after hearing the sound of an explosion.
#URGENTE #VIDEO Aparente explosión en acto donde estaba el presidente Nicolás Maduro genera confusión pic.twitter.com/NYi21vok7T
— NTN24 Venezuela (@NTN24ve) August 4, 2018
The president was not harmed during the attack and it remains unclear if the drones exploded prematurely or if they were shot down. According to Venezuela’s information minister, seven people were injured.
According to the Guardian, information minister Jorge Rodríguez said: “the investigation clearly reveals [the explosions] came from drone-like devices that carried explosives”.
Two hours after the drone attack, speaking from the presidential palace, Nicolás Maduro said that those behind the attempted attack on his life had been captured and that an initial investigation showed that Colombia and Florida where many Venezuelan exiles live may be connected to the failed assassination. The socialist president said:
“I am alive and victorious. Everything points to the Venezuelan ultra-right in alliance with the Colombian ultra-right, and that the name of [Colombian president] Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack.”
Officials from the Colombian government were quick to deny the allegations.
Another angle of the failed "drone bomb attack" on Nicolás Maduro this evening shows soft armour looking shields being hurriedly brought in front of Maduro for protection. pic.twitter.com/5ICfU5LYKR
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) August 5, 2018
As of yet, no other party has claimed responsibility for the alleged assassination attempt, however, one group, called Soldiers Franelas has suggested involvement in the attack as they tweeted: “We have shown [the government] is vulnerable,” the group, whose members are not known, said. “[The attack] wasn’t achieved today but it is just a matter of time [until it is].”
The live broadcast video of president Maduro’s speech that circulates online, shows the president and his wife looking to the sky after loud bangs were heard. The audio shortly cuts out and then we see a wide shot from the Avenida Bolivar, the central highway where the parade was taking place. Panic sets in and scores of soldiers can be seen fleeing the scene.
Interestingly enough, firefighters at the scene have disputed the government’s claim of the alleged drone-assassination attempt on the president’s life. They point to a gas tank explosion in a nearby apartment complex instead. On social media, some Venezuala experts have expressed their suspicions about the government’s conclusions implicating Colombia in the attack in only a matter of hours.
The Guardian mentions Phil Gunson, a consultant with the non-profit Crisis Group who tweeted:
“The official ‘investigation’ of today’s alleged assassination attempt against president Maduro takes the usual course: begin with the conclusions and work backwards.”
Governments around the world, including ours, have been concerned about drones that might be used for terrorist attacks. Yesterday’s events will undoubtedly bolster their opinions.
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