Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said today that Salvadoran troops acting on tips from U.S. intelligence agencies killed and captured “a number of people” responsible for the slaying of four Marines and nine other people in San Salvador last month.
Pentagon spokesman Fred Hoffman said the operation against the terrorist stronghold was carried out “very recently,” but details of the mission were sparse because it involved U.S. intelligence.
A State Department official said Weinberger was referring to recent attacks by the Salvadoran Army against the PRTC (Revolutionary Central American Workers Party), which claimed responsibility for the attack. “I can confirm that the army has been in action against them,” the official said.
Four Marine embassy guards, two American businessmen and seven Salvadorans were gunned down at a sidewalk cafe June 19 by six to 10 guerrillas dressed in military camouflage uniforms.
The attack in El Salvador’s capital city was the worst ever on U.S. military personnel in El Salvador during the country’s five years of civil war.
The reprisal raids that Weinberger said resulted in the death or capture of most of the terrorists fulfilled a promise by President Reagan that the deaths of the Marines would be avenged.
Weinberger made the comments on the reprisal raids in an interview with the Mutual Radio Network.
“We have done a number of things that are, I think, very discouraging to future terrorist acts,” he said.
“And, in one situation, where the guerrillas in El Salvador who came in and murdered the Marines in the cafeteria (sic) in San Salvador, the Salvadoran government, with our assistance, has taken care of-- in one way or another, taken prisoner or killed as a matter of raids--a number of the people who participated in that killing in the guerrilla-held sections of El Salvador.”
The guerrillas control much of Morazan province in northeastern El Salvador, far from the capital.
Hoffman said U.S. participation in the raid was limited to providing U.S. intelligence to Salvadoran troops.
“We provided intelligence,” he said.
Hoffman said that Salvadoran troops “inflicted a major defeat on the guerrilla organization which planned and carried out the guerrilla attack” against the Marines. He could not name the group.
“The operation was against the organization to which we believe the trigger men belonged,” he said. No further details of the operation were immediately available.