As the children of Anastasio Somoza Debayle flew south from the United States to claim their father's body, officials offered a $40,000 reward for information leading to the capture of his assassins and declared that "internatinal terrorism has brutally assaulted Paraguay."
Today's newspapers carried blurry photographs of two suspects in the assassination yesterday of the exiled expresident of Nicaragua.
Identified as members of the Argentine Marxist People's Revolutionary Army, the suspects were named as Silvia Mercedes Hodgers and Hugo Alfredo Yrurzun, known, according to police, as "Captain Santiago." Police said Hodgers rented the house from which a bazooka was fired at Somoza's car. They said they believed Yrurzun owned a pickup truck that was used as a getaway vehicle after the attack.
[Police announced that they shot and killed Yrurzun in a shootout in a working-class suburb of Asuncion Thursday night, Associated Press reported early Friday.]
[They said that he was killed after he opened fire on police who came to search the house he was hiding in and that a person accompanying Yrurzun escaped during the shootout. Heavy shooting reportedly continued past midnight, and police warned citizens to stay away from the neighborhood.]
The guerrilla group, once active in Argentina, was virtually destroyed following the military coup there in 1976.
As Paraguayan and Argentine police hunted for the slayers of Somoza, 54, a confrontation development between the estranged wife of the ex-dictator and his mistress.
From behind the white-brick walls of the heavily guarded residence, Nicaraguan Dinorah Sampson -- referred to locally as "Somoza's woman" -- said she wished "with all my heart" that Somoza be buried in Paraguay, where they had lived in comfort since leftist revolutionaries forced him from Nicaragua last year.
[Somoza's five children tool possession of his remains early Friday and took off on chartered flight to Miami, Fla., AP reported from Asuncion. The family owns considerable property in the Miami area and plans to bury Somoza there, AP said.]
A State Department spokesman in washington said the widow, Hope Portocarrero de Somoza, had requested that Somoza be buried in the United States. The request was granted, the spokesman said.
Dinorah Sampson, looking tired and dressed in black, stood today near the coffin at their residence. Somoza's face, pale but not visibly wounded, could be seen through a glass panel. Sampson recalled their last meeting.
"He never was careful . . . he trusted this country and the Paraguayan People . . . for all of our lives.'"
Sampson said Paraguayan land recently bought by Somoza was to be part of a cotton-growing ranch and that he had begun to buy equipment for the project. "I still at this moment can't believe he's dead," she said.
Paraguay is a landlocked country firmly ruled for 26 years by Gen. Alfredo Stroessner -- the longest-standing leader in the Western hemisphere. He is now 67. Nothing like yesterday's wild machine-gun and bazooka attack had happened here in those years. Taxi drivers lined up in some astonishment at the airport this morning as the early flight from Buenos Aires disgorged a large and noisy pack of reporters. The airport and borders had been closed yesterday.
Taxis taking journalists to hotels rolled past squat white houses with roofs of red tile, past spring-green trees low over the roadway, past an occasional thin black cow grazing on the grass of the traffic dividers and into a riverside city still shaken.
"My wife couldn't sleep all night," said the mustachioed, bespectacled owner of a small paper and electrical goods store in downtown Asuncion. "She kept thinking of the pictures she saw on television, with all the blood. Everyone is so frightened. I think sincerely that it must have been foreigners. No Paraguayan could have done something like this."
Would it have been better if Somoza had never moved to Asuncion? "I think he should have found some place very far away," the man said After a moment. "No country in America wanted him."
Although government statements continued to accuse external "terrorist forces," the particular motive for the murder remains a mystery.
Even the method of the assassination, with its bozooka shot and multiple machine guns and getaway cars, is a mystery to some in the diplomatic community here. Somoza was a jogger, one observer said. "He used to go down to the Armed Forces track and run every day. You could have gotten him with a bullet."