WATCH: Venezuelan President Maduro survives a drone assassination attempt


Security personnel surround Venezuela’s President Maduro during an incident as he was giving a speech in Caracas, Venezuela, August 4, 2018. (Source: Xinhua via AP)

On Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was giving a speech when a drone attempted to assassinate him. This is the first known incident of an assassination attempt being made on a world leader by a drone rather than a lone shooter.

On Monday, Venezuelan authorities said they identified the people behind the apparent assassination attempt on President Maduro, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said.

According to Interior Minister Néstor Reverol, the investigation has so far revealed the locations from where the drones were piloted, and led to the arrests of six people in connection with the attack, including two of the drone pilots.

“We also know the places where they stayed in the days leading to the attack. We have identified the people who made the explosives and prepared the weapons and their international links,” Saab said.
Saab further stated that the assassination attempt was a “betrayal to the motherland, intentional homicide attempt, terrorism, association to commit a crime and financing terrorism.”
The suspects were charged with “terrorism and assassination,” Reverol detailed, and one of them had an open arrest warrant for his alleged role in the August 2017 attack on a military base in Valencia. Another was previously arrested during anti-government protests in 2014.

 

Venezuelan police take security measures after an explosion was heard while Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was attending a ceremony to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the National Guard in Caracas (Credit: Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Footage of the event shows Maduro and several others looking up and pausing before they realise what’s happening. “Seconds later, there was a second explosion,” Maduro said in a national address recounting the incident. The crowd then begins to disperse as people run away from the explosion.

Both drones exploded, and the attack injured seven soldiers, according to Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez. Maduro managed to escape unharmed and “in a perfect state of health,” he said at a press conference.

Maduro claimed that the attempted assassination was part of a plot by far-right members working with opponents in Bogotá and Miami, including Santos, the Colombian president. The Colombian government rejected this accusation and called Maduro’s charges “absurd.”

“This was an attempt to kill me,” Maduro said. “Today they attempted to assassinate me.”

Firefighters at the scene gave an alternative account to Maduro’s, however, and told the Associated Press that a gas tank had exploded nearby, though their conclusions have not been corroborated.

One witness showed The Associated Press a video of a drone crashing into a building. He said the drone fell to the ground and exploded, igniting a fire in an apartment.

Another witness described running in panic to her balcony on the fifth floor, where she heard the second explosion followed by rising smoke.

“It was so strong the building shook,” she said. “It terrified me.”

Other countries expressed support for Maduro after the attack, including TurkeySyriaNicaragua, and Russia. Bolivian President Evo Morales tweeted messages of solidarity with Maduro and described the attempt as a “crime against humanity.”

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Xain Storey

Xain is the co-founder and editor of BroFeed. He spends most of his time researching bioculturalism, building epic fantasy worlds, and wondering why people still trust their governments.

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