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

Explosive drones detonate in 'assassination attempt' on Venezuelan president

In what has been cast as a desperate attempt to reassert his authority, President Maduro of Venezuela has accused the Colombian government of trying to assassinate him with an exploding drone.

CARACAS: Drones loaded with explosives detonated close to a military event where Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was giving a speech on Saturday, but he and top government officials alongside him escaped unharmed from what Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez called an "attack" targeting the leftist leader.

State television images showed Maduro looking up disconcertedly in the middle of a speech, having heard a bang, before members of the country's National Guard lined up in the parade suddenly scattered.

Once back in the presidential palace, Maduro said he had "no doubt" that Colombia's Santos - a Nobel Peace Prize victor who negotiated a historic peace accord with Marxist guerrillas FARC - was "behind the attack".

The attack highlights Maduro's challenges in maintaining control over the OPEC nation, where widespread food and medicine shortages have fuelled outrage. The little-known group Soldiers In T-shirts has claimed responsibility, saying it meant to fly two drones loaded with explosives at the president but they were shot down.

Security officers were able to disable one of the drones flying toward the stage where Maduro was standing with high-ranking officials, Reverol said.

Reverol said he doesn't rule out further arrests. Mairum Gonzalez said she heard a thundering explosion and ran in terror to her fifth-floor balcony. She says she saw a drone strike the same building mentioned by the other witness and then fall. Maduro fumed hours later, as he blamed the incident on Colombia´s outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos and financiers in the United States.

He asked Trump to arrest the terrorists.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed the comments made by National Security Adviser John Bolton earlier in the day as he returned from an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference Sunday night.

While denying any United States role, he said that if Venezuela had "hard information" of a potential violation of United States law, "we will take a serious look at it".

In the midst of near-daily protests previous year, a rogue police officer flew a stolen helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at several government buildings.

The government alleged that opposition factions conspired with assailants in Miami and Bogota, although they offered no specific evidence. Oscar Perez was later killed in a deadly gun battle after over six months on the lam.

Both the Colombian government and the Trump administration, who have adversarial relationships with Venezuela's government, have rejected Maduro's accusations.

Venezuela has already reacted to Saturday's events with a series of arrests as Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who was also present at the parade, warning: "There will be a ruthless punishment". The AP could not independently verify the authenticity of the message.

"The material and intellectual authors of the crime inside and outside the country have been plainly identified", Reverol said, adding that more arrests are expected.

He added that the armed forces "absolutely repudiate this barbarism in a desperate attempt to destabilize" the government.

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