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    Nicaraguan President, Anastasio Somoza, has hinted in several recent interviews that he may resign. On?

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    Nicaraguan President, Anastasio Somoza, has hinted in several recent interviews that he may resign. On Thursday (5 July), he told the Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, that he had no choice but to relinquish power if the United States wanted him to do so. Two days earlier, he expressed similar opinions in an interview with an Argentine television correspondent, But so far, Nicaraguan Government spokesmen have pointedly denied all reports that President Somoza is about to leave his country. On Wednesday (4 July), Sandinist rebels completed their encirclement of Nicaragua's capital, Managua, despite fierce resistance by President Somoza's National Guard troops.

    SYNOPSIS; Sandinistas have held the town of Masaya for more than three weeks. But on Monday (2 July), these National Guardsmen launched one of their strongest offensives in an effort to recapture the rebel-held town.

    Masaya is twenty-six kilometres (sixteen miles) north of Managua, and together with Nicaragua's and together with Nicaragua's second city, Leon, took the brunt of the Government offensive. But the left-wing Sandinistas now control some twenty-four towns throughout the country.

    In Monday's offensive, both the towns of Masaya and Leon were bombed and strafed by President Somoza's planes as troops below fought to regain the upper hand.

    Although the guardsmen fought hard and long, they failed to dislodge the Sandinists. In much of Nicaragua, the structure of the National Guard has collapsed and the well-armed rebels are now thought to outnumber President Somoza's forces. The Sandinists had brought in hundreds of reinforcements to prepare for a major drive south on the Inter-American highway to link up with rebel forces south of Managua. In spite of this attempt by President Somoza to halt their southward march on Managua, the rebels had encircled the capital within forty-eight hours.

    Red Cross officials in Nicaragua estimate that the bloody civil war has already taken some ten thousand lives. the fighting has left some two hundred thousand people homeless.

    Red Cross officials say many are starving, although several countries have donated food and medicine, which are flown to airports in the country. President Somoza is now virtually friendless. Six Latin American countries have broken off relations with his Government. The United States -- once his staunchest backer -- is now apparently persuading him to resign.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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