Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images
Updated at 8:50 p.m. ET
Venezuelan officials say that President Nicolás Maduro has escaped an “attack” unharmed.
Maduro was giving a live televised speech in the capital city of Caracas on Saturday when, officials said, explosive-carrying drones went off.
Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez called the incident an “attack” on the leader, reports The Associated Press, and said seven National Guard soldiers were injured.
The government says the event was a celebration to mark the 81st anniversary of the country’s National Guard.
“At exactly 5:41 p.m. in the afternoon several explosions were heard,” Rodriguez said, according to the AP translation, in a national address immediately following the incident. “The investigation clearly reveals they came from drone-like devices that carried explosives.”
But, the wire service adds, firefighters at the site of the explosion are disputing the government’s account of what it called an “attack.”
Footage posted on Twitter by Venezuela channel NTN24 TV shows the moment the scene descended into chaos before the broadcast was cut off. Maduro is seen looking toward the sky in confusion. Dozens of soldiers break formation before scattering.
Saturday’s alleged attack comes less than three months after Maduro won a second term as president in an election that his main rivals and independent observers say was marred by fraud.
Maduro, 55, succeeded Hugo Chavez when the longtime Venezuelan socialist died of cancer in 2013. Since taking power, Maduro has presided over a collapsing economy, hyperinflation, widespread hunger and a mass exodus of refugees seeking to escape dire conditions inside Venezuela.
Maduro’s government was the target of an assault last June, when Óscar Pérez, a rogue pilot dropped grenades from a helicopter on the Venezuelan Supreme Court and fired on the Interior Ministry.
This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.