Nine militants of the Popular Revolutionary Bloc found themselves virtual prisoners inside the Venezuelan Embassy here today following the dramatic escape of diplomats they had held hostage for more than a week.
The armed occupiers refused to leave the embassy, which has been surrounded by military police since the hostage were smuggled a gun and fled yesterday evening. The occupiers said they were awaiting instructions from their leaders.
The El Salvador government today cut power and water lines into the building, and the militants sait they were running out of food.
Meanwhile, unspecified "progress" was reported by French diplomats and leaders of the Revolutionary Bloc in negotiations over the occupation of the French Embassy, where 16 Bloc members have held six hostages since May 4. The occupiers demand the release from jail of three Bolc members - who the government denies are in custody.
Escaped Venezuelan Ambassador Santiao Ochoa returned alone to his embassy at midmorning, a cocked pistol in his belt, to appeal to Bloc members to surrender their weapons and accept asylum in Venezeula or eslewhere.
Venezuela continues to guarantee the safety of the militants as long as they stay inside the embassy or agree to asylum. But a Salvadoran military officer, the first to approach the embassy since the occupation began, told them today, they cannot remain free in El Salvador.
In keeping with the atmosphere here over the past week, the officer, a submachine gun hanging free at his shoulder, walked to the window chewing on a blade of grass.
"Senores," he said, "you have been authorized the choice of asylum or jail."
"Thank you," said the militant.
"Don't mention it," said the officer as he turned and walked back to his post at the corner of the block.
"He's a brave guy," the militant remarked to a reporter.
Although hours immediately after the initial escapes were tense, with dozens of police guns pointed at the embassy windows, there was more confusion than violence.
The following description was given by Ambassador Ochoa and other former hostages:
On Saturday, a tennis ball apparently was thrown in an embassy window with a message saying that another ball, with Bloc leadership instruction written on it, had been thrown in the day before.
Since no one inside had seen the first tennis ball, the militants made an extensive search of the building, until only the locked embassy files remained. The militants asked that the files be opened. The ambassador refused, saying they were "private property of the Venezuelan government."
After the confrontation began, the ambassador asked his wife, who visited him and passed food in through the window daily, to bring him a gun.
Later when the confrontation over the files intensified, the hostages told their captors that they too were armed and the two groups took shelter from each other on either side of a wall running through the building.
Shortly, after the four Venezuelan diplomats and four Salvadoran employes also held hostage, broke down an embassy door in their hiding place in the back of the embassy. Ochoa climbed across adjoining roofs to a policeman and asked for more weapons. The policeman refused.
Ochoa returned by the same route and then left with four others. The embassy's military attache and first secretary along with a Salvadoran chauffer, remained, saying their duty was not to abandon the embassy.
Around midnight, however, they too, left.
This morning, the militants, who appeared in relatively good spirits, said they still had not found the tennis ball.