Six Arrested After Explosive Drones Assassination Attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Six people have been arrested over a failed explosive drone assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on August 5.

Speaking on national television, the country's Interior Minister Nestor Luis Reverol said more arrests could follow, calling the audacious operation a terrorist attack, CBS News reported.

The government claimed that those arrested had worked with other plotters in Miami and Bogotá, Colombia, but offered no evidence to support its allegations. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos dismissed the suggestion that he was involved in the plot.

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro looks up in the middle of his speech, reportedly in the direction the sound of an exploding drone, in Caracas, Venezuela, on August 4. VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT TV/Handout via REUTERS TV

A largely unknown group called National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts claimed to be behind the drone attack, noting on its Twitter page, "It was not successful today, but it is just a matter of time." The authenticity of the claim could not be independently verified.

Reverol said that two drones, each carrying 2.2 pounds of plastic explosives, targeted Maduro as he spoke to troops during celebrations marking the 81st anniversary of the national guard. One drone was shot down using electronic countermeasures, while the other crashed into an apartment building and exploded on the ground, the minister described.

Reverol said "six terrorists and assassins" had been arrested, with more detentions expected. Two of the arrested, he said, were believed to have taken part in anti-government movements before: one in a 2014 protest, the other as part of an attack on a military barrack.

After Saturday's attack, Maduro gave an address to the nation, describing the "flying device" that exploded. The president said he first thought it might have been a fireworks display, but, upon hearing a second explosion and seeing the reaction of his guards, realized, "This was an attempt to kill me."

Video footage of the incident shows Maduro and his wife looking to the sky before they were bundled off the stage by bodyguards. The soldiers standing in formation to hear the president speak ran for safety en masse.

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In Caracas, Venezuela, national guard soldiers run during an event that was interrupted by explosive drones, on August 4. VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT TV/Handout via REUTERS TV

The embattled president blamed the "far right" and conspirators in the U.S. and Colombia for the attack. The Colombian government rejected the assertion, while U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said American authorities would look at any "hard information" Venezuela provided as evidence.

Venezuela's Broad Front opposition coalition warned that the president may use the failed attack as an excuse to silence political opponents, purge suspected dissenters within the security services and further consolidate power. A statement explained, "It's evident that the initial reaction of the government isn't aimed at attempting to clarify what happened but rather to take advantage of the situation and irresponsibly and sweepingly attack the 'opposition.'"

Venezuela is in the grip of a crippling financial crisis, which has seen its currency become near-worthless and left citizens struggling to afford daily necessities. Collapsing crude oil prices have left enormous holes in the national budget, which the government has attempted to fill by printing more and more money.

As conditions worsen, millions are fleeing abroad, many to neighboring Colombia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that more than 1.5 million have already left, with around 5,000 people fleeing the country every day.

Six Arrested After Explosive Drones Assassination Attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro | World