Venezuela’s leader safe af­ter at­tack

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Scott Smith As­so­ci­ated Press

As­sailants tried to as­sault Ni­co­las Maduro with drone-like de­vices armed with ex­plo­sives, the govern­ment said.

CARACAS, Venezuela — As­sailants tried to at­tack Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro with drone-like de­vices armed with ex­plo­sives that det­o­nated just as the so­cial­ist leader was de­liv­er­ing a speech to soldiers, the govern­ment said Satur­day.

Speak­ing in an ad­dress to the na­tion later Satur­day, Maduro said: “This was an at­tempt to kill me.”

He said ev­i­dence gath­ered thus far “points to the far right” and that he be­lieved Colom­bian Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos, a fre­quent critic of his, was in some way re­spon­si­ble.

He added po­lice had made ar­rests in the in­ci­dent but did not pro­vide any fur­ther de­tails.

In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Jorge Ro­driguez said seven peo­ple were in­jured.

“At ex­actly 5:41 p.m. in the af­ter­noon sev­eral ex­plo­sions were heard,” Ro­driguez said. “The in­ves­ti­ga­tion clearly re­veals they came from drone-like de­vices that car­ried ex­plo­sives.”

State tele­vi­sion showed Maduro cel­e­brat­ing the Na­tional Guard’s 81st an­niver­sary right be­fore his speech was cut.

At one point, Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, looked up to the sky and winced af­ter ap­par­ently hear­ing an uniden­ti­fied sound.

The cam­eras then turned to a wide shot of mil­i­tary of­fi­cers as they broke rank and be­gan run­ning.

The trans­mis­sion was then cut.

The area has been closed off by mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

Sev­eral fire­fight­ers at the scene dis­puted the govern­ment’s ver­sion of events, say­ing in­stead that the in­ci­dent was ac­tu­ally a gas tank ex­plo­sion inside an apart­ment.

Venezuela is go­ing through a crip­pling po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cri­sis, with hy­per­in­fla­tion soar­ing to­ward 1 mil­lion per­cent, crum­bling hos­pi­tals and res­i­dents mi­grat­ing in mas­sive num­bers.

JUAN BARRETO/GETTY-AFP

Se­cu­rity forces scram­ble to a site near where Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro was giv­ing a speech Satur­day.

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