The Venezuelan government says that President Nicolás Maduro survived an assassination attempt during a live speech on Saturday. The attack was reportedly carried out with a pair of drones laden with explosives, which detonated near his position.
Maduro speaking at an event commemorating the 81st anniversary of the country’s National Guard in the nation’s capital, Caracas. Midway through his speech, a bang can be heard, after which Maduro and the people surrounding him look up, before the camera abruptly cuts to Venezuelan soldiers scattering in the streets. Shortly after the incident, the country’s Minister for Communications and Information confirmed the attack, and indicated that the explosions came from “drone-like devices that carried explosives.” Maduro was uninjured during the attack, but seven National Guard soldiers were injured.
Firefighters at the scene disputed the government’s account, saying that the explosion was the result of a “gas tank explosion inside an apartment,” but Reuters reports that a “little-known group called the ‘National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts’ was behind the attack, which claimed that their two drones were shot down by snipers. Reuters also says that Maduro has since blamed the Columbian government, and that several suspects have been taken into custody. Earlier this morning, US National Security Advisor John Bolton told Fox News Sunday that the US was not behind the attack.
The attack highlights the very real and new risk that these devices can pose. As the price of consumer drones has fallen, there’s been numerous instances in which they have been weaponized and used against combatants, or have prompted US allies to take extreme measures to shoot consumer drones down.