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Turmoil In Romania : Rebels Find Labyrinth of Secret Bucharest Tunnels

December 25, 1989|From Associated Press

VIENNA — Revolutionary soldiers found a vast labyrinth of safehouses and tunnels used by police forces loyal to Nicolae Ceausescu, some with entries hidden in cemetery burial vaults and subway systems.

Army officers speaking on Bucharest radio Sunday said that the sprawling maze of tunnels criss-cross the city and link two airports, Communist Party headquarters and Ceausescu's palace in downtown Bucharest.

The radio report, monitored in Vienna, went into stunning detail about the hundreds of safehouses and miles upon miles of underground tunnels stuffed with weapons.

Ceausescu's downtown palace contained a bunker designed to resist nuclear attack and was outfitted like a war room, the radio said. The tunnels also linked his so-called Spring Palace in the north of the capital and the old royal palace downtown, near the party headquarters.

One tunnel from the party headquarters ran to a lake north of the city, apparently designed as a Ceausescu escape route.

Romanian radio broadcasts have appealed repeatedly in recent days to architects involved in building the web of tunnels to divulge the layout to the army and other forces behind the revolt.

Exiled Romanian architects on Saturday called the U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe radio station, describing details of their layout.

"There is one linking the Baneasa and Otopeni airports," a distance of three miles, an unidentified architect calling from New York told the station.

"The army found and neutralized 48 terrorists' safehouses on just 20 streets in Bucharest," Bucharest Radio said Sunday.

Knowledgeable Romanians said they had heard of such safehouses in the capital and in all major cities, but few imagined their size and scope.

The Soviet news agency Tass said guards had living quarters along the most frequently traveled Ceausescu routes.

Quoting informed Romanians, Tass said some "terrorists" under fire from the army retreated to cemeteries, where they had hide-outs among burial vaults and entrances to the tunnels.

Bucharest radio said a tunnel several miles long contained sophisticated monitoring equipment.

THE ROMANIA STORY The Fighting

Secret police loyal to deposed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, though badly outnumbered, continue to put up a savage fight in Bucharest. Sniper fire, roadblocks and burning buildings mark the scene in the capital. Timisoara, where four journalists were wounded by gunfire, sees lighter fighting but snipers still operate.

Foreign Aid

First convoys with medical supplies and doctors arrive in Bucharest to the cheers of residents. Most Soviet and U.S. aid is stalled by dangerous situation in the country.

U.S. Policy

Secretary of State Baker said Washington would not object to military intervention in Romania by Soviets or the Warsaw Pact.

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