Maduro's Allies Partly Blame US for Assassination Attempt

Maduro's Allies Partly Blame US for Assassination Attempt

Maduro's Allies Partly Blame US for Assassination Attempt

Venezuelan authorities said on Sunday they have detained six people over drone explosions the day before at a rally led by President Nicolas Maduro, as his critics warned the socialist leader would use the incident to crack down on adversaries.

Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol announced the arrests on state television, saying more could be on the way "in the coming hours".

The Associated Press reported that the six individuals are suspected of packing two drones with explosives, which exploded during a speech Maduro was giving at a military ceremony on Saturday.

One of those arrested was wanted in connection with an earlier attack on a military installation, Reverol said. "We have identified the people who made the explosives and prepared the weapons and their global links", Saab said.

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

In a television address, Maduro personally blamed Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos of involvement in the plot in collusion with Venezuelan exiles in Florida, without presenting any evidence for the claim. Security guards quickly moved in with ballistic blankets to protect Maduro.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton told Fox News on Sunday that the US government had no involvement in the attack, a response reiterated in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's remarks to reporters Monday. "I hope that President Donald Trump is ready to fight these terrorist groups".

Maduro said some of those involved were arrested and an investigation was under way.

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The government has also pointed the finger at the opposition, prompting fears of a new crackdown.

A second drone "lost control in the general area of the event and struck a building known as Don Eduardo near Bolivar Avenue, detonating at the height of the first floor as it fell to earth", Reverol said.

One of the main avenues in the capital Caracas was sealed off, commemorative videos for the National Guard's 81st anniversary flashed on a big screen, and a suited Maduro with a yellow, blue and red presidential sash spoke surrounded by the military's top brass.

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country, where food and medicine are in very short supply, and where inflation this year could reach as high as one million percent according to the International Monetary Fund.

Maduro said the incident had left him convinced of the military's support and undeterred in carrying forward the torch of Chavez's revolution.

Open calls for military intervention have grown after massive anti-government protests past year failed to unseat Maduro and he was re-elected in a May vote widely decried as a sham.

A broadcast by Maduro was cut short during an outdoor speech at a military event in Caracas and soldiers were seen running before the televised transmission was cut off. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have left the country over this time, and a year ago, 125 people were killed across four months of clashes between Venezuelan authorities and anti-regime protesters.

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