Venezuela Says Blasts Were an Attack on President Maduro: ‘An Attempt to Kill Me’

August 5, 2018 Updated: August 5, 2018    

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed that several explosions, which were heard at a speech that he was giving, were an attempt on his life.

“This was an attempt to kill me,” Maduro told The Associated Press on Aug. 4. “Today they attempted to assassinate me.”

The president of the socialist country was unharmed in the incident, which officials claim was triggered by explosive-carrying drones, according to NPR.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez echoed claims from Maduro, characterizing it an “attack,” adding that seven soldiers were injured.

“At exactly 5:41 p.m. in the afternoon several explosions were heard,” Rodriguez said, according to AP. “The investigation clearly reveals they came from drone-like devices that carried explosives.”

Video footage posted on Twitter by Venezuela channel NTN24 TV shows the moment the explosions went off before the broadcast was cut off. Maduro and his wife can be seen looking into the sky.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab told AP that the attempted assassination was directed at not only Maduro, but also the military’s entire upper-level command on stage with the president. “We are in the midst of a wave of civil war in Venezuela,” Saab said.

Maduro blamed the attack on far-right factions, and he also claimed that the U.S. and Colombian governments had a part to play in the incident, according to NPR. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, he claimed, was behind the incident.

A Colombian government official told Reuters that Maduro’s allegation against Santos is “absurd.” The source added that Santos was at his granddaughter’s baptism on Aug. 4: “He is not thinking of anything else, least of all bringing down foreign governments.”

A little-known group called the “National Movement of Soldiers in T-shirts” claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported. In a series of posts on social media, the group stated it had planned to fly two drones but that snipers shot them down.

Venezuela, a once-wealthy oil-producing nation, is in the depths of a five-year crisis under President Maduro’s socialist government. Venezuelans have struggled to buy the scarce food and medicine available in the country amid soaring inflation.

In recent months, Venezuelans have been forced to cross into Colombia and other South American countries to get food and other supplies.

Reuters contributed to this report.