Venezuelan President escapes drone assassination attempt

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Though several explosions and drones were originally reported by the government, Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said on Sunday that only two drones, armed with plastic explosives, were used in the attack.

Maduro was unharmed in the incident, which officials said had injured seven soldiers in an extraordinary scene captured on video that showed hundreds of Maduro's troops seemingly fleeing in panic at the sound of an explosion.

Two drones loaded with explosives went off near the president's stand, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said.

But the military managed to knock one of the drones off-course electronically and the other crashed into apartment building two blocks away from where Maduro was speaking.

A second drone "lost control in the general area of the event and struck a building known as Don Eduardo near Bolivar Avenue, detonating at the height of the first floor as it fell to earth", Reverol said.

Saying a "shield of love" had protected his life, the president accused "far right" extremists linked to Colombia and Venezuelan dissidents living in the United States for the attack during an impassioned speech delivered three hours after the incident.

Afterward, Maduro gave a defiant speech in which he accused Venezuelan opposition groups, financial backers in Florida, and Colombia's outgoing president, Nobel Peace Prize victor Juan Manuel Santos, of trying to assassinate him.

He has blamed Colombia for the incident but provided no evidence.

In a press statement, the ministry said it "strongly rejects" the accusation of Maduro, whose country has been in an escalating political crisis between the socialist government and the opposition.

Since the attack, Venezuelan officials have claimed that a series of drones controlled by far-right opposition and Colombian officials had attempted to assassinate the President at the military rally on Saturday. Denouncing an "assassination" attempt, Maduro insisted he was "more determined than ever".

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CNN and other outlets broadcast live footage of Maduro looking up and of his wife, standing nearby, noticeably flinching as the explosives detonated.

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.

Apparently in response, Bolton said, "If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of USA criminal law, we'll take a serious look at it".

Bolton told Fox News' Chris Wallace Sunday morning, "Well, I can say unequivocally there is no USA government involvement in this at all".

Arreaza thanked the solidarity shown by various governments and organizations in rejection of the attack against the president.

Just over a year ago, Maduro claimed a police helicopter had fired grenades at the Supreme Court in a "terror attack" that caused no injuries or damage and was dismissed by the opposition.

Maduro's security team led him to safety.

Bolton said he spoke with the US government's top diplomatic official in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, on August 5 and said that Americans in Venezuela are safe.

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.

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