Four Reported Killed in Rebel Attack in Nicaragua
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ Anti-Sandinista rebels attacked a cooperative farm in northern Nicaragua, killing four civilians and wounding nine, the Defense Ministry said Friday.
In another development, the government Friday announced the capture of nine Contra rebels it said were on an economic sabotage mission and who allegedly had a list of assassination targets.
In a brief statement on the raid, the Defense Ministry said about 40 rebels Thursday attacked the Patio Grande farm in Nueva Segovia province, about four miles south of the town of Quilali and 117 miles north of the capital of Managua.
The rebels destroyed a tractor and a large truck, the statement said.
The statement did not say if the civilians were armed. However, most government farm cooperatives have their own self-defense systems, especially in zones subject to frequent attacks by the U.S.-backed rebels, known as Contras.
Contras have complained in the past that the arming of civilians makes it difficult to distinguish civilians from Sandinista soldiers.
Officials at the Interior Ministry’s Office of State Security presented the nine rebels - seven of them clad in new camouflage jungle fatigues - at a press conference in Managua’s presidential building.
The officials also distributed to reporters photocopies of what they said was a list of Sandinista officials and collaborators the Contras intended to assassinate. The list was said to have been found on the group’s commander, identified as Jose Alfredo Picado Garcia.
The list, entitled ″Toads of the Rabid Dogs,″ had 32 names. A ″toad″ in colloquial Nicaraguan Spanish stands for a collaborator, and the Contras frequently refer to officials of the leftist Sandinista government as ″rabid dogs.″
A State Security official, Deputy Commander Luis Chavez, told reporters gathered that the nine, most appearing to be in their teens or early 20s, were a commando unit of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, also known as the FDN, the largest of several Contra groups.
The FDN has secret bases in neighboring Honduras, conducts most of its operations in northern Nicaragua and is supported with money, training and weapons by the Reagan administration.
Picado Garcia, who calls himself Commander Juddy, was one of two prisoners who made statements. A burly security guard stood behind him as he talked.
Picado Garcia, dressed in jungle fatigues and worn combat boots, denied that his squad had killed any civilians. He said his mission was to ambush vehicles on highways and to blow up electrical towers.
Speaking at times in a quavering voice, his face covered with sweat, Picado Garcia said he and his men were posing as civilians when they were captured on the outskirts of Matagalpa, 70 miles north of Managua.
Security officials said the rebels were captured March 26, and claimed they had destroyed several electrical towers.