Venezuela arrests 6 over drone explosions during Maduro speech

Nicolas Maduro

In a statement, Denny described the attack as "horrendous", charging that it was aimed at destroying Venezuela's stability.

Maduro appeared on national TV a couple of hours later, when he spoke about the investigation and arrests.

A senior Colombian official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said Maduro's accusation was "baseless".

"And I have no doubt that everything points to the right-to the Venezuelan ultra-right, in alliance with the Colombian far-right", he said, adding that "Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack", according to a translated comment reported by El Nacional.

Patricia Andrade, executive director of the human rights organization Venezuela Awareness Foundation, said Maduro's government takes advantage of any excuse to stop the opposition and dig in its heels.

Bolton noted that Maduro has a history of baselessly blaming Santos and the USA for incidents in Venezuela.

"It is already customary for the Venezuelan president to permanently blame Colombia for any type of situation".

He said one of the drones flew over the tribune where Maduro was giving a speech to mark a military parade but that it became "disoriented by signal inhibiting equipment" and was thus "activated outside the assassins' planned perimeter".

Columbia said there was "no basis" for the accusation, while a little-known organisation called the "National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts" claimed responsibility.

A second suspect had been detained during a wave of anti-Maduro protests in 2014 but had been released through "procedural benefits", Reverol said, without offering details.

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"This was an attempt to kill me", he said.

Authorities in Caracas revealed that two drones packed with explosives targeted the president as he made a speech as part of celebrations marking the 81st anniversary of the National Guard.

Images on social media showed officers surrounding Maduro with what appeared to be a black bulletproof shields as they escorted him from the site. One of the drones was to explode above the president while the other was to detonate directly in front of him, he added.

Maduro "came out of it completely unharmed", 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. Maduro has steadily moved to concentrate power as the nation reels from a crippling economic crisis.

Germany said merely that it was "closely following developments on the ground", while Portugal opined that the crisis in Venezuela could be overcome by "dialogue and national consensus" in line with "democratic principles".

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

Last year, the president said the new body replaced the elected legislature.

The United States and other countries have expressed alarm at the loyalist structure propping up Maduro, saying Venezuelan democracy was being undermined. Maduro won a new six-year term in May but his main rivals disavowed the election and alleged massive irregularities.

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