Sandinista guerrillas have withdrawn from the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, to regroup for what may be their final offensive against government forces.
Sandinista guerrillas have withdrawn from the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, to regroup for what may be their final offensive against government forces. Despite growing military and diplomatic setbacks, President Anastasio Somoza has pledged to fight to the end against the Sandinistas. The United States is reported to have asked the President to step down from office unconditionally, a call echoed by a leader of Nicaragua's opposition Conservative Party in Managua on Thursday.
SYNOPSIS: The Nicaraguan capital, Managua, now free of Sandinista guerrillas, has had the chance to take stock of the recent fighting. A meeting of the country's National Assembly was called on Thursday but deputies did not meet in the Palacio Nacional - their usual venue - despite government security in and around the building.
Last year, the building was the scene of a daring raid by a group of Sandinistas, whose leader was known as 'Commander Zero'. The guerrillas took hostages and then escaped after their demands had been met.
As deputies prepared to meet, a gruesome discovery was made only a short distance from the parliamentary building. Firemen donned gas-masks as they uncovered the bodies of five-four men and one woman - are thought to have been Sandinista guerrillas. Their hands were tied, and it seemed they were all executed at point-blank range. Spent bullets from Israeli-made assault rifle machine guns and a pump-action shot-gun were found nearby - both in use with President Somoza's National Guard.
Firemen gathered the bodies together and then soaked them with kerosine. A government helicopter flew overhead, surveying the area. It was President Somoza's personal helicopter, with its distinctive blue and white markings.
Although the killers of these people are not known, the National Guard has a reputation for being ruthless with those suspected of being Sandinistas. President Somoza himself recently announced that prisoners are no long being taken.
Two more corpses were discovered nearby and burnt quickly to prevent the spread of disease.
The Intercontinental Hotel was the site for Thursday's parliamentary meeting. Somoza's resignation was never discussed there. The only item on the agenda was the 1979 budget. Later, an Opposition Conservative Party leader spoke to newsmen.