Venezuela thwarted a US-linked plan to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and seize power from his socialist government, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez alleged on Wednesday.
Active and retired military officers were involved in the plan, which was set to take place on Sunday or Monday, he said, accusing Chile and Colombia of also being involved in the alleged coup attempt.
Rodriguez added that opposition leader Juan Guaido was planning "a bloodbath."
Guaido, who has the support of the United States and about 50 other countries to replace Maduro, dismissed the attempted coup claims as fiction, saying the media had "lost count" of how many times the government had alleged this.
Maduro speaks out
In a nationally televised address, President Maduro accused the US of being responsible and that Colombian President Ivan Duque was also involved as his "complicity" was "evident."
The Venezuelan leader said he would be unforgiving of any attempts at a coup d'etat.
"We would be ruthless in a revolutionary counter-offensive against a attempted fascist coup — ruthless!" Maduro said. "That's not called politics," he added. "That's called fascism."
Earlier on Wednesday, Colombian President Duque called for an end to Maduro's "dictatorship" during his speech at the inauguration of the 49th OAS General Assembly in Medellin.
"We can not look on from a distance at what is happening, our duty is to end the dictatorship, our duty is the freedom of the Venezuelan people," Duque said.
jsi, amp/se (AFP, AP, Reuters, EFE)