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Cristiani's Closest Adviser Dies in El Salvador Ambush

June 09, 1989|From Associated Press

SAN SALVADOR — An El Salvador Cabinet minister who was the new president's closest adviser was killed today by unidentified men who riddled his car with machine-gun fire, the governing political party said.

Jose Antonio Rodriguez, 70, the minister of the presidency, died shortly after arriving at the Zaldivar Hospital, a nurse at the hospital said.

Rodriguez, the chief of staff, was a member of the rightist Republican Nationalist Alliance of President Alfredo Cristiani, who took office June 1.

Rodriguez's driver and bodyguard also died in the attack, which occurred shortly after the minister left his home in western San Salvador, according to Armando Calderon Sol, president of the governing party, and other sources.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, and no further details were immediately available. Rodriguez took office June 1, the day Cristiani was inaugurated for a five-year term.

Leftist guerrillas of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, who tried to disrupt the election that brought Cristiani to power, vowed before the inauguration to make El Salvador "ungovernable."

On Saturday, the guerrillas spurned Cristiani's proposal for dialogue aimed at ending the nation's civil war. An estimated 70,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the civil war began nine years ago.

On Wednesday, guerrillas attacked nine military posts and claimed to have killed or wounded six police in a raid on a coffee processing plant at San Miguel de Mercedes, 50 miles north of the capital in Chalatenango province.

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