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Doubts raised over ‘exploding drone attack on Maduro’

Doubts raised over ‘exploding drone attack on Maduro’

Venezuelan activists in Miami expressed concern on Sunday that an alleged drone attack on Venezuela's leader could be used by the Maduro government to embark on a new wave of repression against opposition groups in the country.

Suspects allegedly launched two DJI Matrice 600 drones, which are popular with professional film-makers and sell for about £5,000 in the United Kingdom, each carrying 1kg of plastic explosives to target the president, his wife, Cilia, and other top Venezuelan officials as he addressed soldiers during a military parade. Seven NationalGuard soldiers were injured, Rodriguez added.

One of the suspects had an outstanding arrest warrant for involvement in a 2017 attack on a military base that killed two people, Reverol said, an incident that followed four months of anti-government protests.

Maduro himself has laid the blame with far-right Venezuelan groups and neighboring Colombia, a vocal critic of Maduro's authoritarian, socialist regime that has lately received numerous hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants escaping over the border.

One expert on the country, David Smilde, told the AP that he didn't think the attack was staged, but that the footage of the incident probably embarrassed Maduro and made him look weak.

Later, Maduro called the attack as an assassination attempt, and blamed it on the far-right factions in Venezuela, the Colombian government and conspirators in the United States.

No drones could be seen in the television broadcast, which showed bodyguards jumping in front of Maduro to protect him with flexible ballistic shields. "I hope that President Donald Trump is ready to fight these terrorist groups".

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Colombia lashed out at the Venezuelan Prime Minister, saying his accusation was "baseless".

The Associated Press reports that one of the drones then crashed into a nearby building before falling to the ground and exploding.

The government has also pointed the finger at the opposition, prompting fears of a new crackdown.

Meanwhile, the Patriotic Pole coalition of parties allied with the government called for a march on Monday in Caracas to back Maduro.

Maduro is deeply unpopular because of Venezuela's collapsed economy, hyperinflation that could reach 1 million percent this year and his autocratic style of governing.

Moscow sided with Maduro's regime after his government faced worldwide isolation when close to 130 people were killed in anti-regime protests a year ago.

Germany said merely that it was "closely following developments on the ground", while Portugal opined that the crisis in Venezuela could be overcome by "dialogue and national consensus" in line with "democratic principles". Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have left the country over this time, and previous year, 125 people were killed across four months of clashes between Venezuelan authorities and anti-regime protesters.

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