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MARINES: 4 Slain by Gunmen in San Salvador : Gunmen Kill 5 Americans in San Salvador

From Times Wire Services

Four U.S. Marine embassy guards, an American businessman and nine other people were killed late Wednesday night when gunmen dressed as Salvadoran soldiers raked two crowded sidewalk cafes with automatic weapons fire in the Zona Rosa nightclub district of San Salvador, the U.S. Embassy said.

Two Marines escaped injury in the 10-minute attack, the embassy spokesman said. Witnesses reported that three Marines were wounded but the embassy spokesman denied that report.

A Salvadoran military spokesman identified the American civilian as George Vineyl, a computer specialist with the Wang Corp.

Witnesses said as many as 12 gunmen, some wearing camouflage uniforms, poured out of a pickup truck and opened fire. They seemed to concentrate their fire on the restaurant where a group of Marines dressed in civilian clothes were seated.

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Four Guatemalan citizens and five Salvadorans were also killed and at least 11 people were wounded, the spokesman said. The names of the dead Marines were not immediately available, the embassy spokesman said.

“At this point it appears to have been an act of random terrorism,” the spokesman said. He characterized the gunmen as “a squad of guerrillas dresed as though they were members of the Salvadoran armed forces.”

He said the Marines were seated at a sidewalk table when the gunmen “pulled up in automobiles, hopped out and began spraying” patrons of the cafe located in Zona Rosa, an area of nightclubs and restaurants in the capital. He said the shooting occurred about 8:45 p.m. local time.

Salvadoran government officials blamed the attack on leftist guerrillas which have been waging a four-year civil war against government forces. No group claimed responsibility.

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