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Doctors Say Contras Attacking Nicaragua Hospitals, Newspaper Reports

December 16, 1985

BOSTON (AP) _ A group of health workers from the United States and Canada who attended a medical conference in Nicaragua says contra rebels in that nation have attacked rural hospitals and clinics and killed health care workers during the past four years.

The Boston Globe said today the 120 doctors, nurses and other health workers returned last month from the conference in Nicaragua at which they swapped diagnostic and treatment information and toured rural facilities.

Since 1981, according to the delegation’s report, U.S.-backed contra guerrillas have killed 38 health workers, wounded 11, kidnapped 28, have looted rural pharmacies and destroyed or damaged more than 60 hospitals or clinics.

Dr. Murray Watnick, a Springfield radiologist, said health workers in the village of La Trinidad showed him bullet holes in the clinic walls and described how guerrillas ransacked it and burned a vehicle used as an ambulance.

Dr. Allison Nist of New York told of a visit to La Pradera where three health clinics built by the Sandinista government had been destroyed by the rebels, the latest assault a mortar attack on Aug. 15, the Globe reported.

Sandinista officials told the North Americans they believe the attacks were part of a strategy by the rebels to discredit government efforts for improved health services for peasants.

The mission to Nicaragua was sponsored by the Bay Area Committee for Health Rights in Central America and the National Central America Health Rights Network, according to the Globe.

Government officials told the delegation that the U.S. trade embargo begun earlier this year is keeping out spare parts for X-ray machines, and only 42 of the 80 machines in the country are working.

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