Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro dodged an apparent assassination attempt when drones armed with explosives detonated while he was delivering a speech, officials said.
Mr Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, on Saturday looked up at the sky and winced after hearing the sound of an explosion pierce the air.
He was giving a speech to hundreds of soldiers in Caracas which was being broadcast live on television when the incident occurred.
“This was an attempt to kill me,” the 55-year-old said later in an impassioned retelling of the events. “Today they attempted to assassinate me.”
Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the incident took place shortly after 5.30pm as Mr Maduro was celebrating the National Guard’s 81st anniversary.
The visibly shaken head of state said he saw a “flying device” that exploded before his eyes, and thought it might be a pyrotechnics display in honour of the event.
Within seconds, Mr Maduro said he heard a second explosion and pandemonium ensued.
Bodyguards escorted the Venezuelan leader out of the event and television footage showed uniformed soldiers standing in formation quickly scattering from the scene.
He said the “far right” working in coordination with detractors in Bogota and Miami, including Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, were responsible.
‘We are in the midst of a wave of civil war in Venezuela’
Some of the “material authors” of the apparent attack have been detained he said, adding: “The investigation will get to the bottom of this.”
Venezuela’s government routinely accuses opposition activists of plotting to attack and overthrow Mr Maduro, a deeply unpopular leader who was recently elected to a new term in office in a vote decried by dozens of nations.
He has steadily moved to concentrate power as the nation reels from a crippling economic crisis.
In the midst of near-daily protests last year, a rogue police officer flew a stolen helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at several government buildings. Oscar Perez was later killed in a deadly gun battle after over six months on the run.
Attorney General Tarek William Saab said the attempted assassination targeted not only Mr Maduro, but rather the military’s entire high command on stage with the president.
Prosecutors have already started their investigation and obtained critical details from the suspects in custody, said Mr Saab more details will be out on Monday.