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Maduro assassination attempt claimed by Venezuela rebel group

Venuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his wife during the attack
Venuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his wife during the attack VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT TV/Handout via REUTERS TV

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he escaped an assassination attempt using an explosive-laden drone during a military parade in Caracas on Saturday. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a little-known rebel group, calling itself the "National Movement of Soldiers in Shirts".


Maduro was unharmed but seven soldiers were wounded.

He later accused Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos of being behind the attack, along with Venezuelan opposition groups

“I am alive and victorious,” he said in a televised address.

“Everything points to the Venezuelan ultra-right in alliance with the Colombian ultra-right and that the name of Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack.”

Late Saturday the National Movement of Soldiers in Shirts, which says it is made up of civilians and military personnel, issued a statement passed to US-based opposition journalist Patricia Poleo, who read it on her YouTube channel.

"It is contrary to military honour to keep in government those who not only have forgotten the constitution, but who have also made public office an obscene way to get rich," it said.

A spokesperson for Santos, who leaves office on Tuesday, ridiculed the claim that he was involved.

Some arrests have been made and an investigation is underway.

Drone attacks claim

State television images showed Maduro looking up disconcertedly in the middle of a speech when a bang was heard, then members of Venezuela's National Guard scattering.

No drones could be seen in the television broadcast, which showed bodyguards jumping in front of Maduro to protect him with flexible ballistic shields. The broadcast cut to film of soldiers.

Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez said there was "an explosive charge ... detonated close to the presidential podium" and in several other spots along the parade held in central Caracas.

Maduro's reelection in May came amid a deep economic crisis which has isolated the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled due to food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation that could reach one million percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

A year ago 125 people died after four months of street protests against Maduro's rule which were put down by robust action from the army, the National Guard and police.

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