Venezuela ‘drone attack’: Six arrests made

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[BBC] Six people have been arrested in Venezuela for involvement in an apparent assassination attempt on President Nicolás Maduro, the interior minister says.

Nestor Reverol said they were part of a group that loaded two drones with explosives and set them off during a military parade in the capital Caracas.

Mr Maduro has warned the perpetrators face “maximum punishment”.

He has blamed Colombia for the incident but provided no evidence.

Colombia said the accusation was “baseless”.

The government has also pointed the finger at the opposition, prompting fears of a new crackdown.

Many opposition leaders have already left the country citing government harassment and there are reported to be more than 200 political prisoners in the country’s jails.

Meanwhile Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez declared his unconditional loyalty to the president on national TV.

“We are determined, determined to defend our homeland, our constitution, our democracy, our institutions,” he said.

Correspondents say Mr Maduro has relied heavily on the armed forces to keep power in the midst of an economic crisis and political turmoil.

What is known about the alleged attack?

The incident happened when Mr Maduro was speaking at an event to mark the anniversary of the national guard.

A bang is heard and footage of his speech shows the president suddenly looking upwards and dozens of soldiers running away.

Two drones loaded with explosives went off near the president’s stand, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said.

Seven soldiers were injured, the Venezuelan authorities said.

Later Mr Maduro said the incident had strengthened his resolve.

“I am fine, I am alive, and after this attack I’m more determined than ever to follow the path of the revolution,” he said.

“Justice! Maximum punishment! And there will be no forgiveness.”

Interior Minister Reverol said six “terrorists and hired killers” had been arrested, several vehicles seized and hotels raided.

Who could be behind this?

Mr Maduro accused neighbouring Colombia and elements within the US of instigating “a right-wing plot” to kill him.

The Colombian government has denied any involvement, saying there is “no basis” to Mr Maduro’s allegations.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton denied any US involvement in the incident, adding that it could be “a pretext set up by the regime itself”.

Mr Rodriguez accused Venezuela’s right-wing opposition of carrying out the attack.

“After losing the vote, they failed again,” Mr Rodriguez said.

He was referring to May’s presidential elections, where Mr Maduro was re-elected for another six-year term.

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