Nicaraguan Troops Battle Rebels Along Border
Heavy fighting between Nicaraguan government troops and rebel forces continued along the Honduras-Nicaragua border Saturday, and rebel sources said battles had extended more than three miles into Honduras.
A military source in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa said Honduran troops are reinforcing the border area “to impede the advance toward other regions of our national territory, both by the counterrevolutionaries and the regular Sandinista forces.”
President Daniel Ortega said Saturday that Sandinista soldiers had killed 80 U.S.-backed rebels, known as contras , and wounded 120 others since Oct. 24 during “intense combat” to drive back a guerrilla force that tried to invade Nicaragua from Honduras.
Ortega said 21 government soldiers were killed and 16 were wounded in five days of fighting through Wednesday.
Chased by 5,000 Sandinistas
The Honduran military source said the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, the largest organization of contras fighters, had reported killing 100 Nicaraguan soldiers in an ambush.
A contras source, who spoke on condition that he not be identified, said as many as 5,000 Sandinista troops had chased about 2,000 rebels as far as 3 1/2 miles into Honduras.
A Nicaraguan military source said “combat is intense at the border” but insisted that the fighting was in Nicaragua.
Ortega, speaking at a youth meeting in Jinotega, 68 miles northeast of Managua said Sandinista troops were battling “the bulk of the mercenary group that is in Honduran territory and has tried to penetrate into our territory.”
The contras said the fighting began in Wanblan, a small Nicaraguan village in northwestern Jinotega province 127 miles north of Managua, and extended across the border into the Capire zone of Honduras, a mountainous region where the rebels have training camps and a headquarters.