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Holiday Truce Holding in El Salvador

December 26, 1987|United Press International

SAN SALVADOR — An undeclared holiday truce between the army and leftist rebels held Friday, and the military took out newspaper advertisements offering money to any rebel who deserts and turns in a weapon.

The truce began Christmas Eve and no fighting had been reported by midday Friday.

"There is an undeclared truce being respected by both sides," an army official said in a telephone interview.

The army had expected several rebel raids over the holiday and placed its 55,000 troops on "maximum alert," suspending all Christmas passes.

In past years, the church has arranged holiday cease-fires, but the truces always have been violated by both sides during the 8-year-old civil war.

The army took out large advertisements in several newspapers with a "special Christmas offer" to the rebels, inviting them to desert the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and sell their weapons to the army for twice their value. The prices ranged from $400 to $2,400.

The message also was sent out in leaflets dropped by airplanes flying over rebel-held territory, as well as on radio and television broadcasts.

The ad asked the rebels, "How much money have you earned fighting for the FMLN? What skill have you learned to help you in life when the war is over?

"This Christmas is the time to return home. Your family is anxiously awaiting you. This Christmas, make them happy and return to them with life and money," the ad said.

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