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.
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) August 4, 2018
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.”
Quisieron poner a prueba lealtades-de la Fuerza Armada y del pueblo sobre todo- y ya ven que somos infranqueables a la hora de defender nuestro proceso revolucionario y a nuestro líder @NicolasMaduro El fascismo No pasará. pic.twitter.com/Nsa0fY4fOc
— freddy ñañez (@luchaalmada) August 5, 2018
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 Turkey, Syria, Nicaragua, and Russia. Bolivian President Evo Morales tweeted messages of solidarity with Maduro and described the attempt as a “crime against humanity.”
Repudiamos enérgicamente una nueva agresión y cobarde atentado contra el Hno. Pdte. @NicolasMaduro y el pueblo bolivariano. Después del fracaso en su intento por derrocarlo democrática, económica, política y militarmente, ahora el imperio y sus sirvientes atentan contra su vida.
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) August 5, 2018