Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro and hundreds of Venezuelan soldiers were sent fleeing on Saturday after an alleged attack via drone resulted in an explosion.
Maduro was giving a speech at an event celebrating the 81st anniversary of Venezuela’s national army in Caracas when the alleged attack occurred. Two drones loaded with explosives went off near the stand where the president was speaking, alongside his wife and military officials, according to Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez.
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) August 4, 2018
In video of the event, the president’s wife can be seen flinching backward before Maduro glances upward. The cameras cut away to an aerial shot of hundreds of soldiers standing in formation. Then, the crowd on the sidelines begins to flee, spurring the nearby soldiers to break rank and run away as well.
Maduro later gave a separate address, stating: “A flying object exploded near me, a big explosion. Seconds later there was a second explosion.”
Photos on social media show bodyguards lifting multiple bulletproof shields in front of Maduro.
Venezuelan President Maduro unharmed after an attack by drones loaded with explosives：official pic.twitter.com/sbM7tmRxIZ
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) August 5, 2018
Maduro later accused the neighboring nation of Colombia and elements within the United States for planning a “right-wing plot” to kill him, adding he has “no doubt” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was “behind this attack.”
Maduro, who has a history of accusing U.S. forces of conspiring against him, did not provide any evidence for his claims. The Colombian government has denied any involvement in the attack.
Reporting by the Associated Press and BBC showed that a little-known organization called “Soldiers in T-shirts” claimed on social media it was behind the attack, stating without evidence that the two drones were shot down before they could be detonated closer to Maduro. The group has not responded to any request for comment by various media outlets.
To add fuel to the confusion, local firefighters spoke anonymously to the AP, disputing the government’s accounting. Three firefighters speaking on the condition of anonymity said the explosion was caused by a gas tank in a nearby apartment building but did not provide additional details, the AP wrote.
The growing use of drones has led to military concerns, even in the United States. A 2017 report found that drones were flying illegally over military space twice a day on average.