CARACAS, March 27. /TASS/. Venezuela’s law enforcement agencies have detained six suspects in a suspected act of sabotage at the country’s biggest hydroelectric power plant, Venezuelan Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab has said.
"We inform the population that the Prosecutor General’s Office managed to detain six suspects who are presumably responsible for this act of sabotage," Saab wrote on his Twitter page.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said earlier in the day that the country’s power grid was "hit by two treacherous terror attacks" on March 25.
"The government of the Bolivarian Republic informs the people of Venezuela that on Monday, March 25, 2019, the national power grid was hit by two treacherous terror attacks, carried out by those eager to resort to violence, those who turned panic among the population into an instrument for destabilizing the situation in order to satisfy their craving for power in a way that contradicts principles of the rule of law," reads an official statement, published by Maduro on Tuesday.
The document stops short of directly blaming the country’s opposition for the attacks, but says that organizers are supported by "warmongering forces" who, according to Caracas, are controlled by the United States.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government said it would cancel academic studies at all educational institutions on Wednesday and declare it a non-working day due to massive power outages.
"We continue our work to restore power supplies under the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro. He assessed the damage done by the terrorist attack and, in order to facilitate the work, ruled to extend the suspension of work and educational activities through March 27," Venezuela’s Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said in a Twitter post.
Venezuela’s Minister of Popular Power for Communication and Information Jorge Rodriguez said on Monday evening that a considerable part of the country was left without electricity as a result of the second sabotage during the day at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant, the largest hydroelectric plant in the country. In light of this, Venezuela’s government decided to declare Tuesday a non-working day. Rodriguez blamed the opposition for organizing "the attack on the national system of electricity supply."
According to the opposition, power outages were recorded in over 20 Venezuelan states.
The most massive power outage in Venezuela took place on March 7, when the capital Caracas and 20 of the country’s 23 regions were first left without electricity. The National Electric Company said the blackout had been caused by an accident at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant, which Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed on "US imperialism." However, the US Department of State denied any involvement.
The blackout triggered a wave of looting and robberies in the affected regions. In the state of Zulia alone, damages are estimated at more than $50 million.
Representatives of Venezuela’s national Federation of Electrical Workers (FETRAELEC) have repeatedly said that the accidents were caused by the lack of resources for proper maintenance rather than acts of sabotage.