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Ceausescu Bunker: Hub of Dreaded Securitate : Romania: The stronghold was where the dictator's crack force was prepared to make its last stand.

December 30, 1989|CHARLES T. POWERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Through the heaviest of the combat, last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the officers said that the Securitate fighters sent men into the city in disguises, sometimes in army uniforms, to report on the positions of the army in the streets. They rigged up a loudspeaker and tape-playing device that broadcast sounds of heavy gunfire. When the soldiers in the streets moved and shifted their defenses to deal with what they thought was another battle, the Securitate fighters opened up on them.

It is strange to most Romanians that the Securitate kept fighting long after Ceausescu fled the capital Dec. 22, and stranger still that some have continued to hold out even after his body, riddled by the bullets of a firing squad, was shown on national television. For most of the soldiers, as for the general population, it is the description of captured Securitate fighters that paints the eeriest picture of all.

Not many, the major said, had been captured alive. Most apparently preferred to use their last bullets on themselves. Of the few that have been captured, he said, "some looked as though they had been drugged. They had no fear at all. Even if they were captured without arms, they attacked, they used anything they could pick up to fight with, even if they knew they could be shot immediately.

"These captured terrorists have refused completely any food or water and refused to talk completely. They say nothing."

All of them, they say, are large and muscular, like athletes or weightlifters, and in the few cases of hand-to-hand fighting, have demonstrated their skill in karate or some other martial-arts system. Just who they are, or how they have been trained, are subjects of intense speculation to the officers and soldiers who remark on how "strange" the Securitate men appear.

"There are several opinions," the major said. "They do not look like intelligent men. They look like machines."

He confirmed that many think the Securitate fighters are, in fact, orphans, raised from childhood to devote their lives to the defense of Ceausescu. This may be little more than fantasy--there is not a single fact to support it--but it is hard to find a Romanian who does not hold this belief. It is as prevalent among the soldiers who fought them as among the general population.

Personnel at the city's main emergency hospital have stories that support the descriptions offered by the soldiers and are, in their way, equally bizarre. Dr. Andrei Firica, the director of the hospital, and another senior staff physician say that 12 men admitted with wounds ranging from critical to minor during the violence were suspected of being Securitate men.

"It is possible that most of them were drugged," said the staff physician. "They were overexcited, and it required large doses of sedatives to calm them, to make them sleep. Almost all had been drinking as well. All were well-developed physically, strong and muscular. Some told us they were athletes or practiced high-performance sports."

All but one denied being in the Securitate. One, however, identified himself as a major in the unit and said he was sorry only that he had failed in his duty and that he should have killed more people, Firica said. Among the group, two were of Asian or Asian-Romanian parentage. Four of them, the doctor said, appeared to be Arab. They spoke fluent, unaccented Romanian. Some carried as many as four differents sets of identification papers, all conflicting.

"In general," the doctor said, "their comportment was very strange. The pupils of their eyes were dilated. They had a fixed look, their eyes staring. Whatever story they came in with, they stuck to . . . . Some of them had no reaction whatever to normal dosages of sedation. To make them sleep, they were given heavy sedatives."

After that, they were handcuffed to their beds. The last of them was taken by the authorities from the hospital Wednesday morning.

"There were two mysterious deaths--two men, both with minimal wounds. One had a broken ankle, one had a bullet wound in the shoulder. We don't believe it was poison. We opened their mouths when examining them to check for that, for cyanide capsules. It wasn't that. We don't know why they died. It is a mystery."

Since the revolution began, the hospital has treated 679 wounded, admitted 340, and received 116 dead. It was too overcrowded with emergency cases to perform autopsies on the dead Securitate men, so the mystery remains.

The mystery of wht remains in the tunnels behind the steel doors leading out of the bunker under the Central Committee also lingers, and neither the soldiers nervously guarding them, nor a fragile government still moving about the city in tanks and armored cars, is sure what to do about them--or how to clean them out.

AUTHORITY CONSOLIDATED: Romania's new regime revokes Ceausescu policies. A21

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