Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro ties prominent opposition leader to drone attacks

Bodyguards cover the president as drones carrying explosives are shot down close to his platform

Bodyguards cover the president as drones carrying explosives are shot down close to his platform

President Nicolas Maduro went on television on Tuesday night to accuse one of Venezuela's most prominent opposition leaders of being linked to a weekend assassination attempt using drones.

Maduro had accused Opposition leaders Juan Requesens and Julio Borges of being involved in the attack.

Security personnel surround Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro after explosives-laden drones exploded near the podium where he was speaking in Caracas on Saturday.

Venezuelan law grants lawmakers immunity from prosecution while in office, but the head of the country's pro-Maduro constitutional assembly said he would propose stripping that protection from the two lawmakers.

"All the statements [of detained suspects] point to Julio Borges, who lives in a mansion in Bogota protected by the outgoing government of Colombia, we know he has the cowardice to participate in this type of events", Maduro said. Images on live television showed Maduro and his wife looking up at the sky at one blast and then hundreds of soldiers scrambling.

The Reuters news agency cites opposition figures as saying his sister, Rafaela Requesens, a student leader, was arrested with him but later released.

Critics of Maduro's socialist government said immediately after the drone explosions that they feared the unpopular leader would use the incident as an excuse to round up opponents as he seeks to dampen spreading discontent over Venezuela's devastating economic collapse.

Prosecutors have arrested six people who face charges of treason, attempted murder and terrorism. Maduro as he spoke outdoors during a military celebration. One video included a purported confession by a handcuffed suspect, whose face was blurred out.

Maduro also held up military hats worn by soldiers with holes in them from debris the explosion.

Maduro said he would provide evidence to officials in the United States and Colombia and ask for their co-operation handing over suspects who helped orchestrate and finance the attack.

The president had said far-right wing factions within Venezuela working in collaboration with conspirators in Colombia's Bogota and Miami in the United States were responsible. "I trust in the good faith of Donald Trump".

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