Probe into attempt on Maduro’s life indicate USA were behind - Venezuelan diplomat

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reacts during an event which was interrupted in this still frame taken from video

Six people have been arrested after yesterday's apparent assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, the nation's interior minister said on national TV.

The incident took place as Maduro was speaking at a commemoration of the of the Venezuelan national guard, which featured a military parade.

The Venezuelan government has long blamed Colombia for plotting overthrows, and far-right elements in Bogota and Miami for attempting to undercut Maduro. But the image of martial lockstep was quickly shattered when a second drone hit a building nearby, as scores of soldiers scurried away before the live transmission ended and switched to reruns about the South American country's auto census.

Maduro "came out of it completely unharmed", he said.

Maduro's security team led him to safety.

But turnout was thin at a few hundred supporters, many of them government employees, with some of them saying they had been ordered to attend, according to Reuters witnesses.

On social media the group said they had planned to fly the drones at Maduro but they were shot down by the military, although they have not backed up their claim with evidence.

Meanwhile, a policeman who requested anonymity told AFP that drones may have been released from a nearby apartment that suffered a fire after one exploded.

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Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has scoffed at the accusations, saying he was fully focused on his granddaughter's baptism on Saturday, while USA national security adviser John Bolton said Washington was not involved in the blast.

"The suggestion that the Colombian president is responsible for this supposed attack against the Venezuela president is absurd and lacking in all foundation, " Santos' office said.

Venezuelan cartoonist EDO published a drawing showing terrified soldiers fleeing under the tagline "Run Forrest, the Empire is invading us!", in allusion to the film "Forrest Gump" where Tom Hanks' character jogs across the United States.

Maduro, a 55-year-old former bus driver, has effectively sidelined the fractured opposition through control of the courts and the electoral body - and unstinting support from the military, which holds key posts in his government. Seven people were injured, the country's information minister said.

"Venezuela will continue on the democratic, independent and socialist path", Maduro said.

Correspondents say Maduro has relied heavily on the armed forces to keep power in the midst of an economic crisis and political turmoil.

That is consistent with the shadowy group that claimed responsibility for the attack, The National Movement of Soldiers in T-Shirts, whose website says it was created in 2014 to bring together different groups of protesters.

More similar to the Venezuelan government's description of the incident are the drones used by terror group ISIS, which has infamously deployed off-the-shelf consumer drones strapped with explosives for years, as well as operated entire workshops dedicated to building or retrofitting unmanned vehicles capable of carrying deadly payloads in Iraq.

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