50 Salvadoran Troops Killed or Injured in Raid
Leftist guerrillas killed or wounded 50 government troops Thursday in a rifle and mortar attack on a major army garrison 80 miles east of this capital city, El Salvador’s military high command reported.
The American Embassy said that three U.S. military advisers and two U.S. military physicians were inside the walled garrison at the time of the four-hour, pre-dawn attack but that all escaped injury.
A clandestine broadcast by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front claimed the guerrillas inflicted 253 casualties, while civilian sources in San Miguel, the garrison city, said that at least 10 soldiers were killed. It was not possible to confirm any of the casualty claims with independent sources.
The assault was the largest guerrilla action since January, when rebels attacked three coffee processing plants in Juayua, about 40 miles west of this capital.
San Miguel is El Salvador’s third city, and the army base there is the largest in the eastern third of the nation, where most of the fighting has occurred in a Marxist-led revolution, now in its seventh year.
The San Miguel garrison serves as one of two training centers for combat medics, who receive instruction from U.S. advisers. It is also home base for the 3rd Infantry Brigade, assigned to keep the rebels in check in the region.
The military press office said that Thursday’s attack damaged the inside of the garrison, “especially the soldiers’ sleeping area.”
A military source at the garrison said: “The attack started north of the barracks. We only heard the mortars and all of us left to take our positions. I don’t know how many have been killed or how many wounded, but there are people killed.”
Garrison sources said that the guerrillas also mounted an attack on a nearby electrical generator plant but were repulsed before the facility could be damaged.
The attack came against a background of efforts to get peace talks going again between the government and the rebel front.