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Rebels Claim Killed 5,677 Sandinista Troops

December 31, 1985

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ The largest U.S.-backed Contra rebel group, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, claimed Tuesday that its guerrillas killed 5,677 troops of their country’s leftist government and wounded 3,979 in 1985.

However, Nicaraguan Defense Minister Humberto Ortega maintained Monday in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, that the fighting resulted in 1,143 government troops being killed along with 4,608 rebels.

Both Contra and Sandinista government figures have been exaggerated in the past, and they often differ wildly. Neither report could be independently verified because much of the fighting takes place in remote areas where access is restricted.

The account from the Democratic Force, known as the FDN, made no mention of how many rebels were killed in fighting during the year.

The Democratic Force report also said the rebels destroyed 56 government garrisons, 14 major bridges and 324 military vehicles, including three airplanes and 11 helicopters.

The rebels also said the casulties included eight Cubans, three Chileans, four Salvadorans and one Venezuelan and that 414 government soldiers defected to the Contras during the year.

The Democratic Force is the largest of the anti-Sandinista rebel groups with an estimated 12,000 fighters inside Nicaragua. It was formed in late 1981.

The U.S. Congress voted in 1985 year to resume funding to the Contras, approving $27 million in non-lethal aid.

Covert American aid to the Contras was ordered cut off in 1984 after controversy developed over CIA involvement in the mining of Nicaraguan harbors.

The Reagan administration says support for the Nicaraguan rebels is justified because of the Sandinista government’s close ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union and their alleged effort to spread leftist revolution through the region.

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