In Nicaragua, Government troops were reported on Friday (September 22) to have silenced the last rebel snipers in the town of Esteli.
In Nicaragua, Government troops were reported on Friday (September 22) to have silenced the last rebel snipers in the town of Esteli. About 700 National Guardsmen, supported by tanks, rocket-firing aircraft, and heavily armoured cars, were said to have gained control of the entire town after four days of fighting. The rebels had kept up a desperate last stand in the eastern quarter, an impoverished area, but relentless shelling ended the battle and left the town in ruins. A Visnews film crew who visited the city reported that only about six hardcore Sandinist guerrillas had been among the rebels. The rest were said to have been young boys, numbering around 200, armed with shotguns and pistols.
SYNOPSIS: Troops entered the city on Tuesday (19 September), and the resulting battles sent hundreds of refugees fleeing to neighbouring towns. The column of homeless moved through the outskirts of Esteli under the protection of the Red Cross flag.
Many children were among the wounded civilians. One Red Cross patient reportedly being a five-year-old boy with a line of bullet holes across his stomach.
Esteli, surrounded by mountains and straddling the Pan American highway, was the last of four towns to be subdued in the rebellion against President Somoza. The Nicaraguan leader, whose family has ruled the country for more that 40 years, said on television that Esteli was being "cleaned up". He has been urged by the United States State Department to discipline his troops, following allegations of atrocities against unarmed civilians.
But President Somoza denies that any such atrocities have taken place.
There has been no clear indication of casualties since the fighting erupted nearly two weeks ago. But a hospital doctor who escaped by cattle truck estimated that several hundred people had been killed.