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Canadian Woman Killed In Explosion

December 27, 1987

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ A hand grenade accidentally exploded in a Matagalpa hotel while a Canadian woman was handling it, killing her and an army officer, the Interior Ministry said Saturday.

The Interior Ministry identified the woman as Jenny Grant More, 26, who died Friday night in a room of the Plaza Hotel in Matagalpa, 80 miles north of the capital, Managua.

It said the woman ″handled a fragmentation grenade, causing a regrettable accident in which (she) died instantly.″ It did not say whose grenade it was.

Also killed in the explosion was 2nd Lt. Roger Mendez Zeron, the ministry said. The state-run Voice of Nicaragua earlier identified the officer as Lt. Zenon Reyes Mendez and said he died in a hospital shortly after the explosion.

The ministry said in a statement that Ms. More was in Nicaragua as a volunteer to help harvest the coffee crop for the company Chale Haslam outside Matagalpa.

In San Jose, Costa Rica, Mathew Levin of the Canadian Embassy said Ms. More was a social worker from Hamilton, Ontario. He said preparations were being made to send the body back to Canada.

Meanwhile, the leftist government said the U.S.-backed Contra rebels violated a two-day Christmas cease-fire that ended midnight Friday.

Both sides agreed to the cease-fire, called by Roman Catholic Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo as part of his efforts to seek a wider truce in the 6- year-old war.

But the Sandinista government’s Defense Ministry said three soldiers and 10 rebels were killed in seven Contra raids on villages and farm cooperatives during the cease-fire Thursday and Friday.

Contra officials denied violating the cease-fire.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that in one attack during the cease-fire, three Contras were killed on a farming cooperative near Muan, in central Nicaragua. The Contras have said government-run cooperatives, run by heavily armed civilians, are legitimate military targets.

Contras attacked the town of Colonia San Jose in the northeastern province of Zelaya at midnight Wednesday, with one militiaman and five guerrillas killed, the ministry said.

The Voice of Nicaragua said that in one raid on a cooperative in northeastern Zelaya province Friday, the Contras burned 24 homes in the village of Tarasma and gutted 36 more which were under construction.

The broadcast mentioned no casualties but said the rebels kidnapped 12 people, including women and children.

Tarasma is 10 miles south of Siuna, one of three towns in Nicaragua’s gold- and silver-mining region which the Contras attacked Dec. 21 and held for nearly 48 hours.

Siuna, Rosita and Bonanza are about 170 miles northeast of Managua.

A Defense Ministry statement said 137 Contras were killed, 65 wounded, five were captured and eight surrendered voluntarily and that 57 government soldiers died in the fighting Dec. 21-22.

The statement said 19 civilians were killed, 93 wounded, 53 were kidnapped and 21 are missing.

Obando y Bravo, the archbishop of Managua, is acting as mediator to try to end the war under a peace plan signed in August by Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.

The plan calls for a cease-fire, amnesties, democratic reforms and an end to foreign support for insurgents.

Cease-fire talks broke off Tuesday for the second time after the rebels insisted on meeting face-to-face with the Sandinistas, who say any negotiations should be with the U.S. government. The cardinal said talks were rescheduled for January.

Congress last week approved a measure granting the Contras $8.1 million to buy non-lethal goods and to transport weapons.

Update hourly