(SKY NEWS) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said he survived an assassination attempt using drones, and blamed right-wing enemies, Colombia and US financiers.
Mr Maduro was delivering a speech in Caracas when at least two explosions were heard. He cut short his address as hundreds of soldiers broke rank in fear.
His wife, Cilia Flores, was standing next to him on a stage for a celebration of the National Guard’s 81st anniversary and could be seen on live state television wincing and looking up after the sound.
Hundreds of soldiers lined up as part of the procession on Avenue Bolivar then began running. The transmission on live television was suddenly cut short without explanation as the president was whisked away.
Pictures showed Mr Maduro’s security personnel shielding the president and cabinet members with what looked like bullet-proof sheets.
Mr Maduro was unhurt.
Information minister Jorge Rodriguez said that some of those behind the attack have been detained.
A few hours after the attack, the president appeared back on state television, blaming the “ultra-right wing” in Venezuela – his term for the opposition – backed by US financiers and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, an outspoken critic of his.
He vowed to bring those responsible to justice, “no matter who falls”.
The US embassy in Caracas quickly issued an emergency call to US citizens, urging them to shelter and maintain a low profile.
The governments of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Bolivia condemned the attack, as did the FARC, the Colombian former terrorist group turned political party.
A little-known group calling itself Soldiers in T-shirts said it carried out the attack. There has been no independent verification of their claim.