Alleged Plot to Blow Up Economic Targets Thwarted
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ The leftist government said it thwarted a Contra plot to blow up economic targets, including offices of the national bus company and the Soviet airline, when a rebel sympathizer tipped off authorities.
Interior Minister Tomas Borge said the bombings were planned to coincide with an offensive in northern Nicaragua by Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista regime.
On Friday, Alejandro Castillo, 50, an avowed rebel sympathizer who said he told authorities of the alleged scheme, appeared at a government-held news conference with two of the five people arrested for allegedly taking part.
Castillo, who was not arrested, linked the alleged plot to the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Democratic Force, the largest rebel group fighting the Sandinistas.
He identified the leader of the alleged terrorist team as Alberto Stulzer, who was arrested Aug. 15. Stulzer had contacts with the Honduras-based rebel group, according to Castillo.
Stulzer did not appear at the news conference. Castillo said Stulzer had been instructed to form a rebel cell within Nicaragua.
Castillo said he himself had contact with the team because he opposed the Sandinista government, but went to authorities when he learned of plans to blow up the installations.
Borge said that the group planned to blow up offices of the national bus company ENABUS and the Soviet airline Aeroflot, an electrical substation and a supermarket.
Others under arrest are Guillermo Moreno, 28, who allegedly made plans of the places that were to be bombed; Sixto Aristides; Alfonso Mejia Chavarria, a construction supervisor, and Digna Peralta.
Oscar Loza, operations chief for state security, said 44 pounds of plastic explosives were seized at Peralta’s home.
Mejia Chavarria, arrested Sept. 21, told reporters he became involved because he was promised help in getting his son out of the country to avoid military service.
The arrest dates for the others were not announced, and other information on the five was not available.
They are charged with violations of state security laws, which carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Borge and other officials have said 2,500 rebels are planning to launch a new offensive soon.
The government has said those reports and internal unrest led to Tuesday’s suspension of civil rights, including freedom of expression, public assembly and the right to strike.
Borge said rebel radio broadcast instructions 10 days ago for the five to begin the operations, unaware that they had already been arrested.
The Defense Ministry on Friday said Sandinista troops killed 77 rebels in 39 clashes in the 12 days ending Thursday.
The fighting was in two northern provinces, one Atlantic coastal province and in one in the south near the Costa Rican border, the communique said.
It mentioned no government casualties, but said the rebels kidnapped 18 civilians, killed four and injured six others. Government troops wounded at least 14 rebels and captured six, it said.
Congress cut off U.S. military aid to the rebels a year ago, but earlier this year apparoved $27 million in non-lethal aid to the Contras.