Rebels Attack Argentine Base; Up to 24 Dead
Armed civilians seized a small military base near the capital today, and up to 24 people were killed or wounded before soldiers firing tank shells, mortars and machine guns retook most of the base, news reports and officials said.
The civilian attackers who stormed the base carried pamphlets supporting officers who have led three previous uprisings, the private news agency Diario y Noticias said.
“Militarily, the situation at the 3rd Infantry Regiment at La Tablada is dominated,” the secretary for state intelligence, Facundo Suarez, told the government news agency Telam about 10 hours after the incident began.
He admitted, however, that some civilian attackers remained inside, and gunfire could be heard coming from the base as he spoke on the radio.
DyN, the news service, quoted a military source it did not identify as saying at least 20 of the estimated 50 civilian attackers were killed or wounded during fighting.
Hospital officials said at least four soldiers were killed and 12 wounded in the fighting, along with one reporter.
Caravan of Insurgents
The attack by the rebels began about 3 a.m., when civilians in a truck crashed through the regiment’s main gate, DyN said. Six cars followed, with 40 to 50 people taking part in the attack, news agencies reported.
According to DyN, as they entered the base, the civilians threw pamphlets supporting what is known as the “New Argentine Army” of Lt. Col. Aldo Rico, who led short-lived army uprisings in April, 1987, and January, 1988. Rico was dismissed and now is in prison.
Two small tanks opened the noon counterattack, firing on the officers’ club, in which the civilians were thought to be isolated, Telam said. Sporadic shooting continued for several hours.
The Ministry of Defense, anticipating a possible fourth insurrection against the government in the past 21 months, bolstered defenses at Government House and the official residence of President Raul Alfonsin, Telam said.