Maduro creates military unit to protect public service installations

Handout photo released by the Venezuelan Presidency's press office showing Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) during a meeting with military commanders in the framework of the planning of "Civic Military Exercises" to take place in the weekend, at Miraflores Presidential palace in Caracas, on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 March 2019
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Maduro creates military unit to protect public service installations

  • The socialist leader accused the opposition of concocting a plan “to accompany the blackout with general violence,” claiming it was neutralized

CARACAS: Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro created a military unit on Friday charged with protecting basic installations and services such as electricity and water just over a week after the country was hit with a massive blackout.
Maduro blamed that on a cyberattack directed by the United States but critics say the government was at fault for failing to maintain infrastructure.
Speaking on television and radio, Maduro said the “Command for the Defense of Basic Strategic Services” would be tasked with ensuring “security, operability and maintenance.”
Its officers would be responsible for guaranteeing both “physical and cybernetic” security of infrastructure and maintenance of equipment.
Maduro repeated his claim that the blackout, which lasted almost a week, was due to “successive attacks” against the country’s major hydroelectric facility at Guri in Bolivar state, “directed” by US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton.
The blackout hit on March 7 and paralyzed the entire country.
The government announced on Tuesday that power was back on in practically the whole country but western regions still reported cuts.
The socialist leader accused the opposition of concocting a plan “to accompany the blackout with general violence,” claiming it was neutralized.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido launched a challenge to Maduro’s leadership in January by declaring himself acting president.
He has since been recognized by more than 50 countries, led by the US.
He said the blackout was caused by burning vegetation that damaged equipment.
Maduro accused him of “sabotage,” although experts doubt that version of events.
Venezuela has been in recession for more than four years and is suffering from an economic crisis.
An estimated 2.7 million people have left the country as poverty soared leaving shortages of food and medicines.


Afghan officials: 10 wounded in Kabul minibus bombing

Updated 1 min 49 sec ago
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Afghan officials: 10 wounded in Kabul minibus bombing

  • An Afghan official says all the wounded are ministry workers
  • Gunmen killed a religious scholar in Kabul yesterday

KABUL: Afghan officials say 10 people were wounded when a sticky bomb attached to a minibus carrying government workers detonated in the capital of Kabul.
Police spokesman Ferdus Faramarz says one of the wounded is in critical condition.
Arab Haidari, from the religious affairs ministry, says all the wounded are ministry’s employees who were on their way to work when the explosion took place on Monday morning.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but both the Taliban and Daesh militants regularly stage attacks in Kabul.
The bombing comes a day after gunmen shot and killed a prominent religious scholar, Mawlavi Shabir Ahmad Kamawi, in Kabul. Last week, a mosque bombing killed another religious scholar during the Friday prayers sermon, also in Kabul.