Venezuela says explosions an attack on President Nicolas Maduro; firefighters dispute statement

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores attend a military event in Caracas, Venezuela, August 4, 2018.

Venezuelan officials say that President Nicolás Maduro has escaped an "attack" unharmed.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says authorities have captured some of those responsible for what he is calling an assassination attempt.

Video from state television shows Maduro, wearing his presidential banner, speaking about the economy when he hears a noise.

Seven people were injured in the apparent attack which came as Maduro celebrated the National Guard's 81st anniversary, said Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez.

He said the President is safe and meeting with the ministers and high commanders of the Venezuelan military.

"This was an attempt to kill me", he said later in an impassioned retelling of the events.

Mr Maduro said several perpetrators had been arrested and initial investigations pointed to Bogota (capital of Colombia), in collusion with his own opposition.

Hundreds of soldiers lined up as part of the procession on Avenue Bolivar then began running.

The US and other countries have expressed alarm at the loyalist structure propping up Mr Maduro, saying Venezuelan democracy was being undermined.

Firefighters near the scene have disputed Mr Rodriguez's version of events. Maduro has steadily moved to concentrate power as the nation reels from a crippling economic crisis.

Venezuelan government officials condemned what they said were "terrorist" attacks on Saturday.

Mr Maduro, a 55-year-old Socialist leader who took over from his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013, has effectively sidelined the fractured opposition through control of the courts and the electoral body - and support from the military, which holds key posts in his government.

Images being shared on social media showed officers surrounding Maduro with what appeared to be a black bullet-proof barrier as they escorted him from the site. "We didn't have success today, but it's just a question of time", said the group, which says it was founded in 2014 to bring together all of Venezuela's "groups of resistance".

  • Tracy Klein