Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C), flanked by security guards, arrives at a Caracas reviewing stand on Saturday prior to a military parade. He was removed from the stand after explosions were heard. Maduro later called it an assassination attempt. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez/EPA-EFE
Aug. 6 (UPI) -- The United States had no involvement in an apparent assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, two White House officials said.
National security adviser John Bolton said in a televised interview Sunday, "I can say unequivocally there is no U.S. government involvement in this at all. Just within the past couple of hours, I have spoken with our charge in Caracas, the head diplomatic official down there. He and his staff were up much of the night making sure that Americans in Venezuela were safe."
Hours earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a plane returning to Washington, D.C., from a Singapore security conference, concurred with Bolton's comments.
"We don't really have a lot of detail about what took place," Pompeo said.
El Nuevo Herald in Miami reported it had obtained a statement in which a clandestine group of Venezuelan soldiers claimed responsibility for the attack. They did not confirm whether it was meant to be an assassination attempt.
The State Department issued a "shelter in place" order to Americans in Caracas on Saturday, then lifted it on Sunday, warning instead to "remain in immediate area around their housing."
Maduro was on a reviewing stand at a military parade in Caracas on Saturday when two explosives-carrying drones detonated above the marchers. He was hustled from the reviewing stand and was not injured. He called the explosion an assassination attempt in a televised address later in the day.
Maduro blamed neighboring Colombia and far-right groups in Venezuela for the attack, adding that several suspects were arrested in Venezuela. He said more suspects were in Miami and asked for help from U.S. President Donald Trump in capturing them.
Activists in Miami dismissed those claims, telling El Nuevo Herald they feared Maduro would launch new attacks against the opposition.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, an ally of Maduro's, directly blamed the United States in a series of social media posts on Sunday, blaming Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and "Yankee Interventionism."
There was no report of injuries from the drone attack, although at least one soldier in the parade was seen with blood from a facial wound. On Sunday, Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the aircraft carried a kilogram of C-4 plastic explosive. He added that six people had been arrested, and several Caracas hotels had been raided for evidence. One suspect was connected to a 2017 attack on a military base in Carabobo state last year.
Under Maduro's administration, oil-rich Venezuela has descended into poverty, rising crime, hunger and an annual inflation rate of over 13,000 percent. The International Monetary Fund has ceased offering the country financial assistance.