Nicaraguan Defence Minister, Humberto Ortega claims to have information that rightist guerrillas plan to step up their attacks in January and February.
1. SV PAN Crowd in a Managua hall clapping and chanting for Defence Minister Humberto Ortega 0.15
2. GV & SV Daniel Ortega, Humberto Ortega and other Nicaraguan leaders on podium (3 shots) 0.30
3. GV Soldiers stepping up and receiving awards, GV crowd applauding (4 shots) 1.11
4. CU Soldiers in crowd 1.14
5. SV Humberto Ortega speaking (SPANISH SOT) 1.36
6. SV PAN Crowds singing Sandinist slogans 1.54
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: MANAGUA, NICARAGUA
Nicaraguan Defence Minister, Humberto Ortega claims to have information that rightist guerrillas plan to step up their attacks in January and February. Mr Ortega was speaking on December 27 at a rally in Managua commemorating a 1974 raid in which Sandinist guerrillas took important Somoza government officials hostage. The action led to the freeing of imprisoned Sandinist leaders who then went on to lead a popular revolution which toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979. The rally on December 27 was also attended by Sandinist leaders such as Joaquin Cuadra, the army Chief-of-Staff, and the defence minister's brother Daniel Ortega who is the Government Co-ordinator. Soldiers at the rally were presented with official Sandinist membership cards as a reward for bravery in combat against guerrillas. Defence Minister Ortega said 1982 had seen continuous raids in which hundreds of people were killed and large amounts of public property destroyed. He said his army had repulsed 70 major invasion attempts and killed 411 guerrillas fierce fighting. Border clashes between Nicaragua and Honduras to the north have raised fears of a full scale war. In his speech Mr Ortega claimed Honduras and the United States were backing the rightists in their attempts to bring down the leftist government in Managua. He said Nicaraguan intelligence showed Honduras was undertaking a major military build-up, while rightist commandos had strengthened their positions on the border. Mr Ortega also claimed that during Ariel Sharon's recent visit to Honduras, the Israeli Defence Minister had opened the way for providing military aid to that country.
Source: REUTERS - MICHELE TAVERNA