The armed uprising in Nicaragua appeared to be over by the weekend as National Guardsmen took firm control of the last of four towns to revolt against the Government.
EXT GV Aircraft flying overhead PAN TO town of Esteli, with smoke rising.
GV Line of refugees leaving town of Esteli on foot.
MV PAN Refugees with belongings on pick-up truck.
MV Men and women carrying belongings, walking from town.
MV PAN Red Cross ambulance driving towards town.
GV Aircraft flying overhead PULL BACK TO burnt out building.
GV People walking through streets of Esteli.
MV Woman and child lifting box of looted aerosol sprays.
MV Man with looted shoes PAN TO children dragging sewing machine from building.
MV Girl taking chair from office.
GV People looting clothes from store. (2 SHOTS)
MV Woman drags away fridge/freezer.
GV Red Cross worker dousing body in petrol and setting it alight.
MV Men bringing coffin to house.
CU Slogan on wall.
GV PAN Wrecked houses.
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Background: The armed uprising in Nicaragua appeared to be over by the weekend as National Guardsmen took firm control of the last of four towns to revolt against the Government. The northern city of Esteli was reportedly lying in ruins on Saturday (23 September) after Nicaraguan troops succeeded the previous day in silencing rebel snipers.
SYNOPSIS: The Government forces bombarded Esteli with rockets and tank support for five days before the rebels were dislodged. The town had been taken over two weeks earlier by Sandinist National Liberation Front guerrillas, supported by local youths. Many people left before the main assault by the troops. But even after the fighting the exodus continued, for the battle had reportedly left little to keep the population.
Refugees told journalists that many of the guerrillas and local youth rebels had slipped out of the city during the fighting to regroup in the surrounding hills. It was said only a few snipes had remained behind to engage the troops. Most of the Esteli's main square was reduced to smoking rubble by the rockets and all essential services were badly affected.
At street corners, barricades of paving stones remained, littered with shotgun and pistol shells which indicated that the rebels had been fighting with relatively unsophisticated weapons.
Many of the remaining civilians in Esteli made the most of their opportunity to carry off food, clothing and luxury goods from the abandoned shops. Troops fired occasionally to try to scare them off, but mostly the looters were allowed to freely strip the shops of goods ranging from radios and sewing machines to furniture and shoes.
Despite these unexpected spoils of war, the people of Esteli were reported to have an increased anti-Government feeling because of the brutality of the military attack. Three other Nicaraguan towns were similarly brought under control after uprisings which sought to force President Anastasio Somoza out of power. The General's family has ruled Nicaragua since 1933 and he now claims that international Communism is trying to force him out. His opponents accuse the Government of chronic maladministration and corruption.
No figure has yet been given for casualties in Esteli but local Red Cross volunteers have said unofficially that the final death toll could run into hundreds. Red Cross people have been burning the bodies of the dead to try and avoid disease. The National Guard has denied press reports that its troops committed atrocities during the battles, and claimed that guerrillas dressed as government troops were responsible. With the rebels now apparently crushed, the truth regarding the allegations may never be determined.