Maduro opponents warn of crackdown after blast in Venezuela

Maduro opponents warn of crackdown after blast in Venezuela

"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.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos "is behind the attack", his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro said Saturday after a rally was rocked by explosions. "Seconds later there was a second explosion". Maduro has steadily moved to concentrate power as the nation reels from a crippling economic crisis. A senior Colombian official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said Maduro's accusation was "baseless".

He said one drone flew over the tribune where Maduro was giving a speech but that it became "disoriented by signal-inhibiting equipment" and was thus "activated outside the assassins' planned perimeter". The visibly shaken head of state said he saw a "flying device" that exploded before his eyes.

"The suggestion that the Colombian president is responsible for this supposed attack against the Venezuela president is absurd and lacking in all foundation, " Santos' office said. But the image of martial lockstep was quickly shattered when a second drone hit a building nearby, as scores of soldiers scurried away before the live transmission ended and switched to reruns about the South American country's auto census.

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

Venezuela's opposition braced itself for "persecution and repression" as the armed forces vowed "unconditional" loyalty to radical socialist leader Maduro who, standing with his wife on a reviewing stand, was unharmed in the incident.

"We saw the drone that looked like the size of half a bicycle".

United States national security advisor John Bolton insisted there was "no USA government involvement" and even suggested that the incident may have been "a pretext set up by the regime itself".




Here is some of the reaction from countries around the world to Saturday's incident, which the Venezuelan government said left seven soldiers injured.

He asked Trump to arrest the terrorists.

"If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of United States criminal law, we will take a serious look at it", he added.

"I am fine, I am alive, and after this attack I'm more determined than ever to follow the path of the revolution", he said.

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 was later killed in a deadly gun battle after over six months on the lam.

Prosecutors have already launched their investigation and obtained critical details from the suspects in custody, said Saab, adding that he would give more details Monday.

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".

"I am sure I will live for many more years", he added. The country's economy has largely collapsed, its currency has suffered hyperinflation, and its population has endured widespread food and medicine shortages, as well as increased crime and violence.

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