WASHINGTON — Nicaraguan rebel troops overran a Sandinista army garrison in eastern Nicaragua last week in the contras' first successful attack on a significant military target this year, U.S. and contra officials said Monday.
A squad of contras seized the army post near San Pedro del Norte last Tuesday, killing at least 20 government troops and capturing a large quantity of weapons, the officials said.
"This is the hardest military target they've hit yet," a U.S. official with access to intelligence information said.
He said the guerrillas captured 50 AK-47 automatic rifles, 70,000 rounds of ammunition, two SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles, one 82-millimeter mortar and a variety of other weapons in the attack.
The contras, whose guerrilla war is funded and directed by the CIA, have frequently been criticized for attacking lightly guarded "soft" targets, such as cooperative farms and electrical installations, more often than military outposts.