Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Maduro clamps down on opposition in wake of "assassination attempt"

Explosive drones detonate in 'assassination attempt' on Venezuelan president Watch an alleged drone attack on Venezuela’s president sends soldiers fleeing
Glenn Montgomery | 06 August, 2018, 10:07

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro survived the apparent assassination attempt, after several drones armed with explosives flew towards him, during a speech on Saturday evening local time commemorating the 81st anniversary of the country's National Guard.

Two top Trump administration officials have now denied US involvement in the apparent assassination attempt of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday night.

One showed a cellphone video of a drone hovering over a residential street two blocks away and then crashing into a building.

"We believe that the regime will launch a fierce attack against the opposition, there will be more violations of human rights, and this gives rise to arrest, accuse and persecute the opposition within the country", said José Antonio Colina, president of Venezolanos Perseguidos Políticos en el Exilio (Veppex).

Colombia said the accusation was "baseless".

Maduro has remained in power over Venezuela, a major oil exporting nation, despite a collapsing economy and a long-running political crisis that has seen his country isolated internationally.

"We demonstrated that they are vulnerable".

Mr Maduro, 55, a deeply unpopular leader who was re-elected after a disputed vote in May, said the "far right" working with detractors in Bogota and Miami, including Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, were responsible.

AP     Nicolás Maduro
AP Nicolás Maduro

"It was so strong the building shook", she said.

Maduro said investigations pointed to financial backers who "live in the United States, in the state of Florida".

Amid deadly, near-daily protests past year, a rogue police officer flew a stolen helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at several government buildings.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab said the attempted assassination targeted not only Maduro, but the military's entire high command on stage with the president.

Opposition leaders decried Maduro for broadly singling out his political opponents, and they warned he may use it to further suppress his critics.

Earlier on Twitter, the group said it was made up of "patriotic military personnel and civilians loyal to the Venezuelan people who seek to rescue the democracy of a nation under dictatorship".

That is consistent with the shadowy group that claimed responsibility for the attack, The National Movement of Soldiers in T-Shirts, whose website says it was created in 2014 to bring together different groups of protesters. Oscar Perez and several comrades were later killed in a gun battle after over six months at large. The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified, and the organization did not respond to a message from the AP.

Images on social media showed officers surrounding Maduro with what appeared to be a black bulletproof shields as they escorted him from the site. "I went to the balcony and I saw the little plane.it hit the building and smoke started to come out".

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