In Nicaragua, Sandinista guerrillas stepped up their campaign to depose President Anastasio Somoza on Wednesday (6 June).
In Nicaragua, Sandinista guerrillas stepped up their campaign to depose President Anastasio Somoza on Wednesday (6 June). They took control of Nicaragua's second largest city, Leon, successfully launched a general strike, and kidnapped a Guatemalan diplomat.
SYNOPSIS: Fighting in Leon continued for nine days before the guerrillas managed to capture the town. Government planes, carrying out bombing raids, damaged houses and ruptured water mains.
As battles raged between Sandinista and National Guardsmen, local residents took shelter from the gunfire.
Rockets and tanks were used by government forces against the guerrillas.
Fighting was also reported from at least five other parts of Nicaragua, and eyewitnesses claimed the guerrillas had taken over Chichigalpa, 120 kilometres northwest of Managua.
On the road between Leon and Managua, the Sandinistas ambushed a transporter carrying a Sherman tank. The truck was damaged, but troops were able to drive the tank on to Leon under its won power.
Light planes bombed the town on Monday (4 June), but were unable to prevent the takeover. Elsewhere in Nicaragua, the government claimed some progress against the guerrillas. According to official reports, guardsmen overran guerrillas positions in Matagalpa, 125 kilometres from managua, killing nine insurgents. But the Sandinistas hit back with their kidnapping of Guatemala's military attach???, Colonel Oscar Rueb Castaneda.
Diplomats quoted by Reuters news agency suggested that Colonel Rueb had been kidnapped as a warning to the Central American Defence Organisation to keep out of the civil war. Guatemala is a leading member of the group, set up to protect rightist regimes from the threat of left-wing coups.
In Managua and other towns, the guerrillas were successful with their call for a general strike. The strike began on Monday. Most businesses in the capital shut down-apart from some foreign banks.
A big new shopping centre closed completely, and buses and taxis stayed off the streets. The strike was effective although, on this occasion, Managua businessmen did not officially support the Sandinista offensive. Last year, the businessmen staged two strikes in an attempt to bring down President Somoza.
The President himself, who visited troops in the areas of fighting, appealed to workers not to go on strike. He has called for help from the Organisation of American States under a treaty providing for mutual assistance. But in Panama City, seven Nicaraguan students took over the OAS offices there to show their support for the general strike. President somoza has described the guerrillas offensive as bigger than that of last September, when a general uprising was suppressed by the National Guard.