In Nicaragua, government troops re-established control of the northern town of Jinotega on Wednesday (May 23) after three days of heavy fighting with Leftist Sandinist guerrillas.
In Nicaragua, government troops re-established control of the northern town of Jinotega on Wednesday (May 23) after three days of heavy fighting with Leftist Sandinist guerrillas. this latest outburst followed several weeks of intermittent fighting between National Guard troops and guerrillas opposed to President Somoza's government. The guerrillas attacked ad held several key towns during this time only to be repulsed by heavily armed troops backed by tanks and planes. While heavy fighting raged in Jinotega, the neighbouring town of Diriamba was taken over by troops and refugees.
SYNOPSIS: The situation in nearby Diriamba was relatively quiet. National Guardsmen who had been rushed to the town and surrounding district were much in evidence, controlling key centres and approach roads to prevent the guerrilla offensive spreading. With fighting raging in to Jinotega, newsmen were barred from the area, and the nearest they got was to meet the steady swarm of refugees fleeing the besieged town. Many of them had left at short notice, carrying few possessions.
Eyewitnesses questioned by police and troops reported a number of casualties. Among these was the Red Cross director of Jinotega, Enrique Pereira Meneses, who had been killed while trying to evacuate children caught in cross fire. Also among the dead were several alleged government supporters, reportedly shot by the guerrillas before the main battle began.
Jinotega, a town of forty thousand people, lies close to the Honduran border. Immediately after the fighting subsided, government troops move into the area to re-establish control and question suspected guerrilla supporters among the milling refugees.
Military sources say fighting of strategic areas had been particularly heavy during the three days, though they declined to give details of casualties. The government achieved complete control of the town having neutralised remaining pockets of resistance, including numerous snipers covering the retreat of their Sadinista comrades.
As troops continued to check the flow of refugees leaving the town more reinforcements were being brought in to consolidate positions and pursue guerrillas who had fled to the surrounding countryside. A Sadinist communique released after the battle said more than 350 of its guerrillas had spearheaded the infiltration into the town, though it was not known how many were left.
Despite the halting of hostilities in the town ad the government show of force, the authorities say many of those who fled are reluctant to return, and others continue to leave.
According to Reuter this latest outburst of guerrilla activity was foreseen by many as inevitable. Following rejections by both sides of proposals for international mediation in January, a renewed offensive was widely predicted.