Maduro to release proof of Colombian role in drone 'attack'

Venezuelan president says he has 'sufficient evidence' that Colombia is behind the foiled 'assassination attempt'.

    Relations between Venezuela and neighouring Colombia have been fraught in recent years [Reuters via Miraflores Palace Handout]
    Relations between Venezuela and neighouring Colombia have been fraught in recent years [Reuters via Miraflores Palace Handout]

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promised to release proof of Colombian involvement in what he calls an assassination attempt against him. 

    In a video posted on Twitter, Maduro said police and the military had captured all the perpetrators and were in the process of tracking down the attack's masterminds.

    "There is sufficient evidence of the participation of the outgoing Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos," he said late Monday, adding he would release proof "in the next few hours". 

    Juan Manuel Santos, whose term in office ends on Tuesday, refuted the accusations, saying he was at a family event on Saturday when a drone loaded with explosives detonated near a military event where Maduro was giving a speech.

    "For God's sake. To Venezuela's president I say this: On Saturday I was doing more important things. I was at my granddaughter's baptism," said Santos.

    Maduro was unharmed in Saturday's incident, which he blamed on a right-wing plot involving Colombia and financiers in the US state of Florida, where many Venezuelans live. Seven soldiers were wounded in the blast.

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    So far no evidence has been provided to support the claims.

    Six people were arrested on Sunday in connection with the blast, according to Venezuela's interior minister.

    On Monday, Maduro failed to appear at a support rally in Caracas, where he had been expected to speak in what would have been his first public appearance since the purported attack.

    No explanation was offered for his absence.  

    Thousands attended a rally in support of Maduro in Caracas on Monday [Marco Bello/Reuters]

    Fraught relations

    Tensions have been high between Colombia and Venezuela in recent years.

    Close to one million Venezuelans have crossed the porous border into the neighbouring country since the social, economic and political crises began in 2016, according to Colombian government figures.

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    While many have returned to Venezuela, about 600,000 have remained, causing Santos to ask for international assistance

    Both Santos and Ivan Duque, Colombia's president-elect, who is to be sworn in on Tuesday, have been vocal critics of Maduro.

    During his presidential campaign, Duque compared Maduro's management of his country to a man who beats his wife and children, saying Colombia has a moral responsibility to speak out against his government.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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