INTRODUCTION: A state of siege has been extended in El Salvador following the murder of two U.S. lawyers and a leading agrarian reformer on Sunday (4 January).
GV EXTERIOR Dormant volcano 9 miles from San Salvador with soldiers and journalists climbing slopes (4 shots)
SV & GV Soldiers standing guard over body (2 shots)
GV Another body lying by path with soldiers and journalists continuing climb (2 shots)
GV Mutilated bodies
GV & SV Body of white man wearing U.S. Marines T-shirt (2 shots)
CU & GV More bodies of alleged guerrillas (2 shots)
GV & SV Soldiers guarding over bodies (3 shots)
GV INTERIOR Soldiers in guerrilla hideout
SV Soldier passing body in maize field
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Background: INTRODUCTION: A state of siege has been extended in El Salvador following the murder of two U.S. lawyers and a leading agrarian reformer on Sunday (4 January). The government launched a massive search and destroy mission against left-wing guerrillas. More than 2,000 army troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked guerrilla hideouts on the slopes of an extinct volcano overlooking San Salvador. Twenty-seven people, including seven women, were reported killed and four government troops wounded.
SYNOPSIS: The day-long gun battle took place on the slopes of the volcano nine miles (15 kilometres) from the capital. Soldiers accompanied journalists up the slopes to see the aftermath of the fighting. Military sources said government troops sealed off a six square mile (16 square kilometre) area. The new Chief of Staff said he now planned to take the war to the guerrillas.
Seven of the 27 alleged rebels killed were women. Reporters taken to the scene found badly burned bodies. No weapons were on show. Police said they had taken them away. Troops were also reported to have encountered guerrillas in another raid 15 miles (24 kilometres) from the capital.
The battle on the volcano was described as one of the largest military operations in years. The slopes rise behind San Antonio Abad, a slum, whose residents allegedly support the guerrillas. The government says it is making an all-out effort to smash what it sees as a left-wing offensive against it. A state of siege imposed nearly a year ago has been extended for another 30 days. The siege suspends most constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, the search continues for the killers of the two Americans and the agrarian reformer who were shot dead on Sunday (4 January). The government has pledged a full investigation into the murders.