The Latest: 6 arrests in Venezuela drone plot; more likely
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela’s announcement of a drone attack aimed at President Nicolas Maduro (all times local):
Venezuelan authorities say they’ve detained six people suspected of using a pair of drones each packed with 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of explosives to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro.
Interior Minister Nestor Luis Reverol on Sunday described it as a terrorist attack and said more arrests could follow within hours.
Two loud explosions sounded on Saturday as Maduro was speaking on national television at a military ceremony. Bodyguards quickly shielded Maduro as troops lined up in the street ran for safety.
Reverol says the explosives on each drone could have affected an area more than 160 feet (50 meters) away.
He says security officers disabled one drone that was flying toward the stage where Maduro was standing beside his wife and other high-ranking officials.
Reverol says the second drone crashed into a nearby building and exploded.
Officials say seven members of the National Guard were injured, three gravely.
Venezuela’s defense minister says attackers mounting an assassination attempt were aiming to decapitate the government’s entire top leadership along with President Nicolas Maduro.
Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez appeared on state television Sunday to denounce what he called a terrorist attack.
Officials say drones loaded with explosives ignited near Maduro Saturday while he spoke at an open-air military ceremony in the capital of Caracas. Maduro was on stage with his wife, other officials and military leaders. Maduro and the other officials were unharmed.
Video shows hundreds of soldiers scattering as the explosions occur.
People living near the site of what appeared to be an assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro say they saw a drone crashing into an apartment building as explosions occurred during the event.
Officials say attackers flew drones loaded with explosives toward the president during an open-air military ceremony that was broadcast on live television. Maduro wasn’t injured.
Witnesses interviewed by The Associated Press on Sunday confirmed seeing at least one drone apparently linked to an explosion.
One showed a cellphone video of a drone hovering over a residential street two blocks away and then crashing into a building. While the video doesn’t show an explosion, the witness said it fell and then exploded, starting a fire.
Another resident apparently saw the same drone. Mairum Gonzalez says she heard a thundering explosion and in terror ran to her fifth-floor balcony. She says she saw a drone strike the same building mentioned by the other witness and then fall. Moments later she heard a second explosion and saw black smoke rising.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser says the U.S. played no role in the apparent assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuelan officials say drones armed with explosives detonated while Maduro was delivering a speech to hundreds of soldiers being broadcast live on television.
Trump’s adviser, John Bolton, says he can state “unequivocally” that “there was no U.S. government involvement in this at all.”
As to what happened in Caracas, Bolton said “it could be a lot of things from a pretext set up by the Maduro regime itself to something else.”
Bolton spoke on “Fox News Sunday.”
Maduro on Saturday did not directly blame the U.S. government, pointing instead at Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. But he asserted that the “intellectual authors” and financiers behind the plan live in Florida. And he said the attack’s goal “is what U.S. imperialism is seeking” — “a Venezuela in conflict, in civil war.”
He asked Trump to arrest the terrorists.
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 U.S. criminal law, we’ll take a serious look at it.”