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Venezuela's Maduro blames US weapons for massive blackout

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Caracas, Capital District, Venezuela Mar 10, 2019, 05.49 AM (IST)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told a crowd of government supporters at a Caracas rally on Saturday that a massive blackout that has affected the country since Thursday was caused by "high-level technology that only the United States government has."

Several hundred people gathered at the rally in central Caracas for a march to denounce the crippling US oil sanctions aimed at cutting off the Maduro government's funding sources.

Maduro blamed the country's worst blackout in decades on the political opposition and said it was caused by "electromagnetic attacks."

The power flickered on and off in parts of Caracas on Saturday, including the presidential palace of Miraflores, according to Reuters witnesses. Six of the country's 23 states still lacked power as of Saturday afternoon, Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello said on state television.

Earlier in the day, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called on citizens nationwide to travel to the capital Caracas for a protest against Maduro.

Venezuela, already suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods, has been mired in a major political crisis since Guaido assumed the interim presidency in January, calling Maduro a usurper following the 2018 election, which Maduro won but was widely considered fraudulent.

Maduro says Guaido is a puppet of Washington and dismisses his claim to the presidency as an effort by the administration of US President Donald Trump to control Venezuela's oil wealth.

Story highlights

Maduro blamed the country's worst blackout in decades on the political opposition and said it was caused by 'electromagnetic attacks.'