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Salvador Rebels Say Truce Fails : No Cease-Fire Ordered, Army Commanders Say

December 27, 1985|MARJORIE MILLER | Times Staff Writer

SAN SALVADOR — Guerrillas Thursday accused El Salvador's government of violating a holiday truce with an air raid of bombs and rockets against the rebels in the eastern province of Morazan, but the army commander there and in other conflict areas said they had not been informed of any truce.

Here in the capital, a military spokesman said that the armed forces "maintained their positions" during Christmas and that all army operations were undertaken in response to guerrilla attacks.

Military commanders in the provinces of Morazan, Chalatenango and Cuscatlan, areas of normally heavy fighting, said they were not informed by the high command of a truce agreed to by President Jose Napoleon Duarte on Christmas Eve. The commanders said they were launching operations as usual during the holidays.

"I don't know about any truce," said Col. Mauricio Vargas, commander of the 4th Military Detachment in Morazan. "I wasn't advised of any truce, not in writing, not by telephone, nothing."

On Tuesday, the government announced that it would accept a proposal by the Roman Catholic Church for a 10-day truce to cease offensives and allow soldiers and combatants to return home for the holidays. The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front had said that it would agree to the truce if the government would.

But when asked about the truce Thursday, Col. Benjamin Canjura, second in command of the 4th Brigade in the northern province of Chalatenango, said: "That's the government, not the armed forces. Here in the 4th Brigade, we are working normally . . . with patrols and searches for terrorists, be it Christmas or New Year's."

'There's No Truce Here'

Canjura said that he had not received any communication from the high command to cease or alter military operations. Nor had Col. Oscar Amaya Perez, commander of the 5th Military Detachment in Cuscatlan. "What truce? There's no truce here," Amaya said.

Col. Carlos Aviles, spokesman for the army's high command, had told reporters Tuesday that the army would abide by President Duarte's decision. On Thursday, he said he had "no comment" when asked why the commanders had not been informed of the truce.

Aviles added that the army launched "no offensive operations. All were a response to terrorist actions."

A spokesman for the president's office could not be reached for comment.

Guerrilla Accusation

In a broadcast over their clandestine radio station, the guerrillas Thursday accused the armed forces of bombing and rocketing several areas of Morazan on Christmas Day, hitting at least eight homes of civilians and wounding a women and two children in the hamlet of La Joya.

The station, Radio Venceremos, said the armed forces dropped 20 500-pound bombs from the planes and launched 50 rockets from airplanes.

Col. Vargas confirmed the army's operation in Morazan but said in a telephone interview that there was no bombing. He said that five UH-1M helicopters with 84 rockets were used and that an A-37 aircraft flew over the area but did not drop any bombs. He said he knew of no civilian victims.

Vargas said the operation was a response to guerrilla attacks in the area. He charged that the guerrillas attacked a new electricity plant in the town of Santa Rosa de Lima in Morazan province at midnight on Christmas Eve and ambushed troops in the town of Jocorro.

'Rupture on Their Part'

"If a truce did exist, the rupture was on their part," Vargas said.

The guerrillas charged that the government planes bombed and rocketed targets in Jocorro and Joateca in Morazan province.

The Farabundo Marti Front, an alliance of five rebel armies, also charged that the government launched operations in the central provinces of San Vicente and Cuscatlan and in eastern Usulutan.

In Cuscatlan, Col. Amaya confirmed a guerrilla report that his forces had shot at a column of guerrillas near the volcano of Guazapa, saying that it was in response to rebel gunfire.

Amaya said two of his soldiers were wounded in a mine explosion near Suchitoto and claimed that would be a violation of any truce.

The guerrillas asserted that on Christmas Eve, the armed forces dropped eight bombs in the area of San Agustin Tres Calles and also fired mortar and machine-gun rounds.

The army charged that guerrillas launched attacks in the provinces of Santa Ana, Cuscatlan, San Salvador, Morazan and La Union.

May Abandon Truce

Late Thursday, guerrilla leaders were considering abandoning the truce, according to a political spokesman.

In a telephone interview from Panama, Guillermo Ungo, a leader of the Revolutionary Democratic Front, an unarmed political organization allied with the rebels, said: "It takes two to make a truce. We don't know if the government has accepted the truce or not. They speak with five voices."

Ungo said that the guerrillas definitely would not attack roads or the electricity system before Jan. 2 to make it easier for people to go home for New Year's, but he said that a decision has not been made yet on whether to return to other offensive operations.

Earlier this month, the rebels had proposed their own truce for three days at Christmas and three days at New Year's, saying they would only defend themselves against government fire or fight against government troops trying to enter guerrilla-controlled areas. The army does not recognize any area as guerrilla-controlled.

A Christmas truce last year also led to charges of violations from each side.

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