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2 high-ranking military officers among 14 arrested in Maduro plot

By
Sommer Brokaw
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks to soldiers in Caracas, Venezuela, on August 4. His speech was cut short by an assassination attempt involving an exploding drone, officials said. Photo by Miguel Gutiérrez/EPA-EFE
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks to soldiers in Caracas, Venezuela, on August 4. His speech was cut short by an assassination attempt involving an exploding drone, officials said. Photo by Miguel Gutiérrez/EPA-EFE

Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Venezuelan authorities have arrested a military general and colonel and a dozen others in connection to a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro.

Maj. Gen. Alejandro Perez and Col. Pedro Zambrano were identified in court as the high-ranking officers arrested for the drone attack.

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Investigators said the plot used explosive drones to target Maduro as he gave a speech Aug. 4. The president was not hurt, but seven soldiers were injured.

Tuesday, the Venezuelan Supreme Court said Perez, Zambrano, opposition lawmaker Juan Requesen and five others had been held "for attempted aggravated homicide against the president."

Overall, 14 people have been arrested so far on charges related to the assassination attempt.

Officials said Zambrano and retired soldier Juan Monasterios were previously charged in an assault on a military base last year, during which weapons were stolen.

Opposition leaders said Maduro is using the failed plot to suppress insurgents.

The high-profile arrests and opposition comes amid Venezuela's ongoing economic and social crisis.

"The human rights situation of the people of Venezuela is dismal," former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in June. "When a box of hypertension pills costs more than the monthly minimum wage and baby milk formula more than two months' salary, but protesting against such an impossible situation can land you in jail, the extreme injustice of it all is stark."

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