Group claims responsibility for Maduro assassination attempt
An unknown rebel group has claimed responsibility for the failed assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, which the president himself earlier blamed on Colombia.
Maduro was targeted with but survived an attack by what was described as an explosive drone during a speech and a military parade in the capital, Caracas, on Saturday.
Live footage showed him interrupted as an explosion is heard in the near distance. Bodyguards are then seen scrambling to protect the president with bullet-proof shields and then move him.
“It was an attack to kill me, they tried to assassinate me today,” Maduro said shortly afterwards.
Venezuelan state television images also showed members of the country’s National Guard lined up in the parade suddenly scattering.
The government said seven guards were wounded in the incident.
Maduro blamed Colombia.
“I have no doubt that the name Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack,” he said, referring to the Colombian president, without offering proof.
He added that investigations suggested that the incident’s financiers “live in the United States, in the state of Florida. I hope that President Donald Trump is ready to fight these terrorist groups.”
Late on Saturday, a civilian and military rebel group calling itself the “National Movement of Soldiers in Shirts” claimed responsibility for the explosion.
“It is contrary to military honor to keep in government those who not only have forgotten the Constitution, but who have also made public office an obscene way to get rich,” the group said in a statement passed to US-based opposition journalist Patricia Poleo, who read it on her YouTube channel.
“If the purpose of a government is to achieve the greatest amount of happiness possible, we cannot tolerate that the population is suffering from hunger, that the sick do not have medicine, that the currency has no value, or that the education system neither educates or teaches, only indoctrinating communism,” added the statement.
Venezuela has been suffering from an acute economic crisis, including shortages of basic commodities.
Colombia denies involvement
The Colombian Foreign Ministry denied involvement, saying the allegations were “absurd” and “lacked any foundations.”
Maduro often accuses the opposition and the United States of working together to foment a “coup” to topple him.
Last year, four months of protests against the government ended with the intervention of the army, the National Guard, and police. However, the protests left 125 fatalities from both sides.
Maduro won another term in office in May, in elections boycotted by the opposition.