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Maduro reports ‘terrorist attack’ against Venezuelan oil refinery

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, takes part in an international press conference at Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, on May 17, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

Venezuela’s Amuay oil refinery has been the target of “a terrorist attack” using a powerful weapon, President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday.

A blast reportedly occurred on Tuesday at one of the oil-rich South American nation’s biggest refineries, located in north-western Falcon state.

The attack destroyed a tower at the refinery, national news agency AVN quoted Maduro as saying at a press conference. No injuries were reported.

Venezuela’s oil production has plunged due to mismanagement, underinvestment and US sanctions. The shortages have led to Venezuela importing fuel from Iran, a move that has increased tensions with Washington.

Maduro said the country had fuel reserves for 20 days and that they would be extended to 30 days.

“[We] are producing 30 per cent of the average consumption in the country … and imports have come from different regions, not only Iran,” the daily newspaper El Nacional quoted Maduro as saying.

The president did not identify the weapon allegedly used against the Amuay refinery, but said the attack planned by the opposition had been backed by the US and some European countries.

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Two foreigners were arrested in north-western Zulia state on charges of planning to assassinate senior government officials, Maduro said.

Military support has allowed the president to hold onto power despite widespread international support for the opposition trying to oust him.

Maduro has overseen an economic meltdown and political unrest that drove 5 million Venezuelans to flee the crisis abroad.

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