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Chilling moment Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faces 'drone assassination attempt' in the middle of a live TV speech - before soldiers run scattering from the scene and smoke rises in Caracas
Footage has emerged which appears to show the moment a drone bomb detonated over a packed rally where Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was giving a speech.
The video, which has been widely shared by Venezuelan social media accounts, shows a single drone hovering above the military parade - before suddenly exploding into a fireball.
Venuzuelan officials have claimed dissidents used two M600 drones, each carrying 2lb of C4 explosive. One of the drones was to explode above the president while the other was to detonate directly in front of him, said interior minister Nestor Revero.
But the military managed to knock one of the drones off-course electronically and the other crashed into an apartment building two streets away from where Mr Maduro was speaking to the hundreds of troops, Mr Reverol said.
It is believed the footage shows the moment the first drone detonated as it moved towards the President.
Footage circulated online appears to show one of the two M600 drones used in an apparent assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro as it detonates after being knocked of course by Venezuelan military
The interior ministry said six suspects have been detained in the wake of the explosion. Pictured: A plume of smoke is left in the sky above the parade ground after a drone detonates in footage thought to be of the incident
Footage broadcast by state television shows Nicolas Maduro abruptly cutting short his speech as what he described as explosives-rigged drones detonated in front of him. He called the attack on Saturday an assassination attempt
In the wake of the attack, Nicolas Maduro has begun rounding up political opponents, blaming them for what he called an assassination attempt on Saturday.
'We have six terrorists and assassins detained,' Mr Reverol said. 'In the next hours there could be more arrests.'
One of those detained had a pending arrest warrant for a 2017 attack on a military base while a second had been detained in 2014 for participating in anti-government street protests.
Maduro had been addressing a military parade in Caracas on live TV, when he suddenly halted and looked to the sky after hearing an explosion.
He and his wife Cilia Flores were swamped with aides carrying bulletproof shields and both escaped uninjured. Maduro claimed a 'flying device' had exploded and quickly blamed 'ultra-right' opponents.
In spite of the footage, three fire officials at the scene disputed the government's version of events, claiming the attack was actually a gas tank explosion inside the Residencias Don Eduardo apartment building. Smoke could be seen coming out of one of the bulding's windows.
But 55-year-old Maduro promised a crackdown of his rivals as he vowed to arrest those responsible, 'no matter who falls.'
'This was an attempt to kill me,' he said in an impassioned address.
Security personnel shield Maduro after the explosions, which came when he was addressing a celebration to mark the National Guard's 81st anniversary. The Socialist premier immediately pointed the finger at plotters in the US and Colombia
President Maduro (pictured during Saturday's parade) has been in power since taking over from his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013
President Nicolas Maduro has remained in power of Venezuela, a major oil exporting nation, despite a collapsing economy and a long-running political crisis that has seen his country isolated internationally.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country, where food and medicine are in very short supply, and where inflation this year could reach as high as one million percent according to the International Monetary Fund.
Maduro, a 55-year-old socialist leader who took over from his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013, has effectively sidelined the fractured opposition through control of the courts and the electoral body -- and undinting support from the military, which holds key posts in his government.
Maduro often accuses the opposition and the United States of working together to foment a 'coup' to topple him.
He says the economic malaise gripping Venezuela is an 'economic war' and any unrest is plotted by foreign powers.
A year ago, four months of street protests flared against his authority that were put down by robust action from the army, the National Guard and police, resulting in 125 people killed.
One of the key reasons for the protests was the creation of the Constitutional Assembly, which aimed to short-circuit the National Assembly in which the opposition won a supermajority in 2015 elections.
Last year, the president said the new body replaced the elected legislature.
The Supreme Court declared the National Assembly dissolved. Although it continues to operate, its decisions are routinely annulled.
The United States and other countries have expressed alarm at the loyalist structure propping up Maduro, saying Venezuelan democracy was being undermined.
Maduro this year brought forward to May presidential elections that -- after they were boycotted by the opposition and key opposition figures were declared ineligible -- handed him a new six-year term.
He added: 'They have tried to assassinate me and everything points to the Venezuelan ultra-right in alliance with the Colombian far right and that the name of [Colombian President] Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack.'
Information minister Jorge Rodriguez said 'several' drones loaded with explosive charges 'detonated near the presidential platform' - and that some of those behind the attack were detained.
Video showed hundreds of soldiers who were assembled in neat formation on a wide road scatter in all directions amid the sound of screaming. Microphones could be heard being dropped at the state channel that was filming the event, which quickly froze.
In a statement three hours later, Maduro said 'everything points' to a right-wing plot that early investigation suggested was linked to Colombia, its president Juan Manuel Santos, and the US state of Florida - where many Venezuelan exiles live. He said several plotters had been arrested, without giving any further details.
Yet immediately Maduro's account of the incident was engulfed in controversy, with Colombia dismissing the claim its citizens were responsible as 'baseless.'
Meanwhile, a little known group called the 'National Movement of Soldiers in Shirts' claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack.
Later, US National Security Advisor John Bolton rejected the idea the US government was behind the incident.
'I can say unequivocally there is no U.S. government involvement in this at all,' Bolton told 'Fox News Sunday' in an interview.
Military expert Rocio San Miguel said she believed the incident was 'a security mistake'.
'A military drone was destroyed by the military because they lost control of it,' she added. 'It started descending and to avoid it hitting the presidential stage, they destroyed it.'
In a day of confusing and rapidly changing developments:
The attack happened during an event celebrating the National Guard's 81st anniversary. Pictured are guards massed in formation before hearing the explosions
Bolton suggested that the Maduro government could be behind the explosion, citing widespread corruption and oppression in Venezuela.
'It could be a lot of things from a pretext set up by the Maduro regime itself to something else,' Bolton said, adding that there were no Americans injured in the blast.
'If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of U.S. criminal law, we will take a serious look at it,' he added.
Maduro often blames the United States, which has imposed sanctions against officials in his government, of 'conspiracy' and blamed U.S. politicians of fomenting plans to topple him to end nearly two decades of socialism in Venezuela.
Venezuela is suffering under the fifth year of a severe economic crisis that has sparked malnutrition and hyperinflation, which has caused tens of thousands of people to flee across the border into Colombia and Brazil.
Maduro said the 'far right' domestic opposition had carried out the attack with help from Venezuelan exiles in the United States and Colombia, as well as Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos - a harsh critic of the socialist who has accused him of undermining democracy.
Cameras captured the moment military officers standing at attention in neat lines broke rank and began scattering in all directions
He specifically named Florida - a city with a large Venezuelan expat population - as the source of the plotters. Some of the 'material authors' of the attack have been detained, he said, without giving any more details.
Colombia denied any involvement, while a senior Colombian official speaking on condition of anonymity said Maduro's accusation was 'baseless'. Tensions are high between both countries over Colombia's decision to welcome thousands of Venezuelan refugees.
Maduro's Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez accused Venezuela's right-wing opposition of carrying out the attack to avenge their loss in May's presidential elections - which was widely seen as rigged.
However, Hasler Inglesias, a youth leader in the opposition Voluntad Popular Party, dismissed the claim.
'We didn't know what was happening,' he told the BBC. 'It's hard to believe that the opposition is going to make an attempt when they have never made an attempt in this way in 20 years.'
Meanwhile, others even suggested the attack had been faked by the Maduro regime to stoke patriotism and legitimize a purge of its enemies.
Smoke rises above the Caracas skyline after two drones detonated above the parade, according to the account Maduro gave on state TV three hours after the attack
Security forces and members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service check the Residencias Don Eduardo apartment building. This could have been damaged by one of the drones or by a gas tank explosion
Security forces check the apartment building for signs of what caused the damage. A web of different theories has already sprung up about Saturday's incident
Maduro and his allies have been quick to use the incident to paint an image of a loyal regime under attack from opposition politicians consorting with foreign powers, especially the US and Colombia.
'That drone came after me,' he said. 'But there was a shield of love that always protects us. I'm sure I'll live for many more years.'
Attorney General Tarek William Saab said the attempted assassination targeted not only Maduro, but rather the military's entire high command on stage with the president.
Prosecutors have already launched their investigation and obtained critical details from the suspects in custody, said Saab, adding that he would give more details.
'We are in the midst of a wave of civil war in Venezuela,' Saab said.
David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America who has spent decades researching Venezuela, said the incident did not appear to be a staged attack by Maduro's government for political gain.
The 'amateurish' attack prompted embarrassing images of Maduro cut off mid-sentence with droves of soldiers running away in fear, making the president appear vulnerable, Smilde noted. Despite the optics, Smilde said he suspected that Maduro would nonetheless find a way to take advantage of it.
'He will use it to concentrate power,' Smilde said. 'Whoever did this, he'll use it to further restrict liberty and purge the government and armed forces.'
Maduro has steadily moved to concentrate power as the nation reels from a crippling economic crisis.
In the midst of near-daily protests last year, a rogue police officer flew a stolen helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at several government buildings. Oscar Perez was later killed in a deadly gun battle after over six months on the lam.
The event had been just one more of many Maduro routinely holds with members of the military, a key faction of Venezuelan society whose loyalty he has clung to as the nation struggles with crippling hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.
Heavily armed security forces check a building after the explosions were heard on Saturday, in an incident Maduro's regiment has been quick to blame on right-wing activists working in concert with the US and Colombia
Seven national guards have been injured in Venezuela after what is believed to have been an assassination attempt on socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a live broadcast that several drone-like devices with explosives detonated near the president.
He said Maduro is safe and unharmed but that seven people were injured.
'At exactly 5.41pm in the afternoon several explosions were heard,' Rodriguez said in a live address to the nation minutes after the incident.
'The investigation clearly reveals they came from drone-like devices that carried explosives.'
Footage broadcast by state television has shown the Venezuelan leader abruptly cutting short a speech as hundreds of soldiers scatter.
Mr Maduro was speaking in the capital of Caracas during a celebration of the National Guard's 81st anniversary.
A video shows Ms Flores wince and look up after a sound. The soldiers lined up in ranks then begin running. The transmission was cut without explanation.
Images being shared on social media showed officers surrounding Maduro with what appeared to be a black bullet-proof barrier as they escorted him from the site.
A photograph also showed an injured military official clutching his bloody head and being held up by colleagues.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reacts after hearing the multiple blasts in Caracas
Maduro (pictured moments before the blast) is reportedly unharmed
The attack happened during an event celebrating the National Guard's 81st anniversary
Cameras captured the moment military officers standing at attention in neat lines broke rank and began running
'To the conscious Venezuela, we are going to bet for the good of our country, the hour of the economic recovery has come and we need...' Mr Maduro was saying before the cameras moved away from him.
However, firefighters near the scene are disputing the government's version of events.
And three officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the incident was actually a gas tank explosion inside an apartment.
Smoke could be seen coming out of a building window at the site of the incident.
The alleged attack comes as the nation struggles with an economic crisis.
A once-wealthy oil country, Venezuela's economy is crumbling in a five-year recession following two decades of socialist rule and plummeting crude production.
Smoke rises above the Caracas skyline after multiple drones reportedly detonated
Security forces and members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service check a building after the drone detonated its load
Venezuelan military arrive to participate in the televised event, which was the target of a drone attack
Venezuela's soaring inflation is predicted to top 1 million percent by the end of the year, economists at the International Monetary Fund recently predicted.
The country's economic turmoil compares to Germany's after World War I and Zimbabwe's at the beginning of the last decade, IMF officials said, adding that Venezuela's economic contraction ranks among the world's deepest in six decades.
Maduro, the self-described 'son' of Chavez, says he is battling an 'imperialist' plot to crush socialism and take over Venezuela's oil.
The site of the attack in central Caracas where the nation's president was the target of a failed assassination attempt
Passers-by and those attending the event are corralled by special forces attempting to shield them from danger
Security forces check a building after an explosion during a ceremony attended by President Nicolas Maduro. A large black blast mark was left on the side of a building
Opponents say he has destroyed a once-wealthy economy and ruthlessly crushed dissent.
Last year, rogue police officer Oscar Perez hijacked a helicopter and fired at government buildings in what he said was an action against a dictator. Perez was hunted down and killed by Venezuelan forces in January.
A National Guard captain, Juan Carlos Caguaripano, early last year attacked a military base with a group of current and former military officials. He was captured soon after.