Security members protect Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Picture: PA)
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro dodged an alledged assassination attempt when drones armed with explosives detonated while he was delivering a speech, officials said.
Mr Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, looked up at the sky and winced on Saturday 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.
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.
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 launched their investigation and obtained critical details from the suspects in custody, said Mr Saab, adding that he would give more details on Monday.
A little known group calling itself Soldiers in T-shirts has claimed responsibility, saying it planned to fly two drones loaded with explosives at the president, but government soldiers shot them down before reaching its target.
"We showed that they are vulnerable," the group said in a tweet. "It was not successful today, but it is just a matter of time."