In Nicaragua, President Anastasio Somoza's National Guard began bombarding several towns with artillery fire on Sunday (1-2 July) at the start of a new offensive against the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
In Nicaragua, President Anastasio Somoza's National Guard began bombarding several towns with artillery fire on Sunday (1-2 July) at the start of a new offensive against the Sandinista National Liberation Front. After a lull in the fighting, both sides in Nicaragua's bloody civil war said on Sunday they planned new offensive within twenty-four hours. The Sandinista guerrillas, fighting to end the Somoza family's forty-year rule in the country, hold twelve important cities in the central American country. But, last week, Government troops drove the Sandinistas out of Managua's eastern slum areas after several savage battles.
SYNOPSIS: The decision by the Sandinistas to abandon their positions in the capital may prove to be a turning point in the country's civil war. The guerrillas were entrenched in Managua's most populous areas for over two weeks.
But their withdrawal was not unnoticed by Government planes which bombed this column of about two hundred guerrillas. A member of the Sandinista provisional government said the guerrillas planned to unite north and south of Managua, forming a giant pincer movement to attack the capital.
The National Guard is claiming a "great victory" over the Sandinistas in Managua's eastern suburbs. But observers say the guerrillas left for fear of alienating the population which is suffering from Somoza's bombing and rocket attacks on the area. With no place to care for the wounded, and without food, water and electricity, many residents have joined the general exodus from Managua's suburbs. The Sandinistas were left, under siege, in deserted -- and therefore politically worthless -- territory. The National Guard -- which is now again in control in Managua -- has organised a clean-up programme. And guardsmen still check civilians for remaining guerrillas.
The guardsmen say they're looking for bruises and skin irritations on civilians' arms and knees to determine whether they have been lying on the ground to fire guns.
But signs of damage in the savage civil war are still very much in evidence. Rockets and bombs destroyed most of Managua's suburbs, and some unexploded bombs still pose a threat.
So far it has been the population's unquestioned faith in the Sandinista's victory over Somoza's government troops which has kept the guerrillas movement alive. Observers believe that if the Sandinistas don't manage to reunite in a counterattack on the capital, the government's psychological victory may be more damaging than their efforts to destroy the movement in Managua.