INTRODUCTION: El Salvador's civilian-military junta produced further evidence on Monday (26 January) to back claims that foreign mercenaries are fighting with left wing guerrillas to topple their government.
GV Wrecked plane at Usulutan (2 shots)
GV PAN Wreckage
CU Captured rifles and ammunition (3 shots)
SV/CU Pilot, Julio Romerio Talavera, in detention (2 shots)
GV Canadian restaurant on fire in San Salvador
GV Burning restaurant, PAN TO SIGN "Hardee's"
GV & SV Flames inside building (2 shots)
GV Fire engine arriving at scene
GV Smoke rising from building
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Background: INTRODUCTION: El Salvador's civilian-military junta produced further evidence on Monday (26 January) to back claims that foreign mercenaries are fighting with left wing guerrillas to topple their government. The army arrested a Costa Rican pilot and charged him with gun-running to the guerrillas after forcing down his plane, loaded with rifles and ammunition, near Usulutan, 75 kilometres south of the capital, San Salvador.
SYNOPSIS: An army report claimed the plane was shot down by government fighters on Sunday (25 January) after dropping two parachutes with weapons for the guerrillas in eastern El Salvador. The damaged plane was abandoned by the pilot who was captured by soldiers.
The plane is reported to have crashed in a fireball, and was later surrounded by ground troops, who also found two parachutes with 80 rifles and nine-thousand rounds of Belgian-made ammunition. Fierce fighting between the government troops and leftists was reported near there the plane was forced down, but El Salvador's President, Jose Napoleon Duarte, claimed the guerrilla's so-called final offensive to overthrow his government has failed.
The pilot of the plane was displayed before the press in El Salvador. He was identified as Julio Romero Talavera, born in Nicaragua but a naturalised Costa Rican. Mr. Talavera is to face charges of subversion, mercenary activities, arms trafficking and spying. In another incident on Sunday a Canadian-owned restaurant, "Hardee's", was fire-bombed in El Salvador. It's the second time the store has been hit. Another restaurant belonging to the same company has been fire-bombed three times. There has been no clear motive for the attacks, but it's thought leftist guerrillas could be making the chain a target to protest against the United States' military aid to the ruling junta worth some five and a half million dollars.