As the Nicaraguan Government intensified its assault on guerrilla - held areas, its relations with neighbouring Costa Rica are reported to be worsening.
GV and SV Citizens in street in Leon, with belongings. (2 shots)
GV Army convoy arriving.
GV Armed soldiers at roadside.
GV Civilians walking along road, carrying belongings. (2 shots)
GV Helicopter flying overhead.
GV Soldiers searching car.
GV and SV Soldiers searching bush- lands and roads. (3 shots)
SV Soldier with gun taking over beside truck.
SV Troops in undergrowth. (2 shots)
SV Jeep pulling away with 4 dead guerrillas aboard. (2 shots)
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Background: As the Nicaraguan Government intensified its assault on guerrilla - held areas, its relations with neighbouring Costa Rica are reported to be worsening. A military spokesman in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, reported on Thursday (September 14) that three guerrilla attacks launched from Costa Rica had been repelled in the previous 48 hours. In turn, Costa Rica has charged that Nicaragua sent a plane to bomb its territory near the border. Relations between the two countries have been strained for the past 30 years. Venezuela is also critical of the regime of Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza and has reportedly suggested that a Venezuelan bomber group visit Costa Rica on "a training flight". Meanwhile, Air Force planes and helicopters are supporting President Somoza's National Guard troops as they move against guerrilla -held areas. The President has decreed that all National Guard commanders can impose martial law as they see fit - thereby suspending all constitutional guarantees.
SYNOPSIS: One of the cities under martial law is Leon - Nicaragua's second largest - and the target of a heavy Government assault on Thursday (September 14).
It had been a guerrilla stronghold, but army vehicles moved in to find almost deserted streets as residents hid in their homes fled to the countryside. After checking the city, the 300 Government troops moved outside Leon to hunt rebels in nearby woods.
Eyewitnesses reported that up to 80,000 people had fled Leon before the assault. They had endured food and water shortages in the city. Reuter correspondents said much of the population had supported the anti-Somoza rebellion.
The Government attack on Leon, with helicopter support, coincided with similar assaults on the cities of Esteli and Chinandega also rebel strongholds. heavily - manned road blocks were thrown up by troops around each city as the hunt for guerrillas continues.
The rebels have accused the United States of sending a mercenary force of more than 700 men which has allegedly arrived to support President Somoza. Residents in the battle-torn town of Masaya have told journalists they had seen men with Asiatic features among Government troops, and claimed these were Vietnamese mercenaries. Meanwhile, a civilian opposition front in Nicaragua - the organisers of a national anti-Somoza strike - has reportedly asked several South American countries to help negotiate a ceasefire.
The Sandinist National Liberation Front claims more than 500 combatants have been killed in the civil war. It takes credit for allegedly killing 444 National Guardsmen, while losing only 66 of its own members. The Front estimates the wounded on both sides to total more than 800.