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Rebels Attack Army Unit As Army Investigates Reported Killings

January 7, 1988

PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) _ Anti-government rebels armed with automatic weapons attacked an army unit in the first fighting since the Nov. 25 elections, the Suriname News Agency reported.

The attack Wednesday reportedly was led by white mercenaries. It was not clear how many mercenaries had been involved or whether there had been any deaths or injuries.

An army spokesman told the news agency that ″a large number″ of rebels armed with automatic weapons and shotguns had participated in the attack, which occurred about 6:30 a.m. in the Patamacca area, 60 miles southeast of the capital, Paramaribo.

In a radio broadcast Wednesday, the chief of the military police, Maj. Raymond Lew Yen Tai, said authorities were investigating reports that soldiers killed seven blacks Dec. 31 in the central village of Pokigron. The soldiers reportedly had been told the men were guerrillas.

The major said an army helicopter had been sent to Pokigron on Monday with the district commissioner and an army officer to investigate the killings. After their return, several soldiers were ordered questioned, he said.

The Suriname News Agency said officials sent to the scene had found indications that some serious crimes had been committed.

The Organization for Peace and Justice, which lobbies for human rights, has called for an investigation of the Pokigron killings and demanded that the guilty be tried.

After the elections, rebels fighting to overthrow the military government of Cmdr. Desi Bouterse announced a unilateral ceasefire to give the new government time to put reforms into effect.

The leader of the group, former army Pvt. Ronny Brunswijk, also said he was willing to meet with the new government.

Suriname is a former Dutch colony on the northern coast of South America.

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