Left-wing militants have ended their two-week occupation of the Spanish embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador (on Monday 18 February) and freed their last two hostages.
GV PAN FROM: LP-28 banner TO newsmen outside Spanish embassy in San Salvador
SV: LP-28 banners and pictures on embassy wall
SVs: Negotiating team enters building (Ambassadors of Italy, Ecuador and Mexico) (2 shots)
SV: Students taking down banners from outside walls of embassy
SV: Embassy sign TILT DOWN TO leftists leaving embassy, hands raised and shouting slogans as they climb aboard bus decorated with LP-28 banners (2 shots)
SV: Hostages leaving embassy as reporter tries to ask question.
GV: Bus drives off with leftists waving from window.
GV: Leftists outside waterworks offices chanting (2 shots)
GV: Demonstrators march through San Salvador carrying banners `BPR' (2 shots)
GV TILT DOWN FROM: Occupied church covered in banners TO demonstrators marching past.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Left-wing militants have ended their two-week occupation of the Spanish embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador (on Monday 18 February) and freed their last two hostages. The members of the Popular League of February 28 (LP-28) seized the embassy on the 5th of February to demand the release of imprisoned colleagues.
SYNOPSIS: The militants took fourteen hostages when they occupied the embassy but most of them had been released, including the Spanish ambassador Victor Sanchez Mezas. Ambassadors from other embassies in the capital had been working with representatives of human rights organisations and church groups to negotiate the release of the remaining hostages. As a result of the recent increase in violence in the country diplomatic missions have either reduced their staffs or moved out.
The last hostages to be freed from the occupied Spanish Embassy, were two diplomats, Manuel de la Helguira and Juan Carlos Reineros. Eyewitnesses said they appeared to be in good health when they left the building. The militants filed out of the embassy with their hands raised and shouting slogans, to bring a peaceful end to the siege. Members of the LP-28 had also taken over the Panamanian embassy in San Salvador (on February 13) but left again the following day.
The LP-28, which claims ten thousand members, has recently occupied several buildings in the capital. They object to the ruling civilian-military junta's proposed reforms, describing them as insufficient.
Elsewhere in San Salvador, left-wing militants freed one hundred hostages held at the Agricultural Development Bank and another sixty were expected to be released from the occupied Water and Sewage Company offices, because the ruling junta had reached agreements with the militants. At the same time, a spokesman for another left-wing group, the Popular Revolutionary Bloc, said it would increase its actions against the government.
The spokesman said on Tuesday (19 February) that the bloc, an alliance of students, peasants and workers, was responding to what he called a sharpening of government repression in recent days.