Venezuela assassination try via drone sparks fears of copycat attack

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reacts during an event which was interrupted in this still frame taken from video

Watch an alleged drone attack on Venezuela’s president sends soldiers fleeing

"This incident does make Maduro appear vulnerable but the truth remains that his circle has the power to crack down on enemies because they still control all the levers of power", said Raul Gallegos, associate director with the consultancy Control Risks.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro and hundreds of Venezuelan soldiers were sent fleeing on Saturday after an alleged attack via drone resulted in an explosion.

Bolton said he spoke with the US government's top diplomatic official in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, on August 5 and said that Americans in Venezuela are safe.

A second suspect had been detained during a wave of anti-Maduro protests in 2014 but had been released through "procedural benefits", Reverol said, without offering details.

Opposition critics accuse Maduro of fabricating or exaggerating security incidents to distract from hyperinflation and Soviet-style product shortages.

"That drone was coming for me but there was a shield of love", Maduro said on Saturday night.

"I heard the first explosion, it was so strong that the buildings moved", said Mairum Gonzalez, 45, a pre-school teacher.

Afterward, Maduro gave a defiant speech in which he accused Venezuelan opposition groups, financial backers in Florida, and Colombia's outgoing president, Nobel Peace Prize victor Juan Manuel Santos, of trying to assassinate him. He said several conspirators were arrested in Venezuela, and appealed to President Donald Trump for help with arresting others connected to the attack in Miami.

"The name of Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack", the authoritarian Venezuelan leader said. Moments later she heard a second explosion and saw black smoke rising.

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"It could be a lot of things from a pretext set up by the Maduro regime itself to something else", USA national security adviser John Bolton told conservative news network Fox on Sunday.

The US State Department dismissed the accusations while rights group Venezuela Justice said a subsequent purge of the country's armed forces resulted in 150 people being jailed "for political reasons".

At one point Saturday, Maduro asked Trump to arrest the "terrorists".

"I can say unequivocally there was no US government involvement in this, at all", Bolton told Fox News.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday", Bolton said that if Venezuela had "hard information" of a potential violation of United States law, "we will take a serious look at it".

In June 2017, an intelligence police commander flew a helicopter over government institutions and threw grenades at the country's Supreme Court building. Oscar Perez and several comrades were later killed in a gun battle after over six months at large.

Venezuela's attorney general, Tarek William Saab, said he had ordered an investigation into the incident, assigning three prosecutors to the investigation. And he said the attack's goal "is what US imperialism is seeking" - "a Venezuela in conflict, in civil war".

"I am fine, I am alive, and after this attack I'm more determined than ever to follow the path of the revolution", added the successor to the late author of Venezuela's socialist revolution, Hugo Chavez.

Footage showed uniformed soldiers, one of whom was injured scattering, while bodyguards led Mr Maduro away from the stage behind bullet-proof barriers.

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