The new Nicaraguan government today declared all National Guard refugees to the "prisoners of war," and Sandinista soldiers surrounded a central camp operated by the Red Cross in which several thousands of the former government's troops are being held.
Interior Minister Tomas Borge charged tht some of the National Guardsmen, who were offered neutral refuge in Red Cross and church centers as part of the cease-fire conditions last week, were concealing weapons and sneaking out of the centers at night.
Borge repeated government promises that most of the guardsmen would be released after investigation and that those charged with crimes would be tried by regular civilian courts rather than military tribunals run by the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
In no case, he said, would the death penalty be imposed.
"We have shot no one, and we will not shoot.
SINCE THE GOVERNMENT ALREADY HAD SAID THE GUARDSMEN WOULD BE HELD AS REFUGEES UNTIL THEY COULD BE INVESTIGATED ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS, IT WAS UNCLEAR WHAT SUBSTANTIVE CHANGES IN THEIR STATUS THE PRISONER-OF-WAR DESIGNATION WILL MEAN.
THE MAJOR IMMEDIATE CHANGE SEEMED TO BE THE PRESENCE OF SEVERAL DOZEN SANDINISTA SOLDIERS SURROUNDING THE OUTSIDE FENCE OF THE TWO-SQUARE-MILE CAMP, WHICH FORMELY SERVED AS AN INDUSTRIAL FREE ZONE. THE SANDINISTAS DID NOT ENTER THE RED CROSS-CONTROLLED CAMP.
MORE THAN HALF OF FORMER PRESIDENT ANASTASIO SOMOZA'S APPROXIMATELY 12,000 NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS ARE BELIEVED TO HAVE FLED THE COUNTRY, FOLLOWING THAT GOVERNMENT'S FALL LAST WEEK.
WHILE MOST OF THE REST TOOK REFUGE IN DESIGNATED CENTERS, IN RECENT DAYS THE MAJORITY HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO THE CENTRAL CAMP SEVERAL MILES OUTSIDE MANAGUAY NEAR THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.IT WAS DECLARED A MILITARY ZONE TODAY FOLLOWING WHAT BORGE SAID WERE ATTACKS ON SANDINISTAS AND CIVILIANS BY GUARDSMEN SLIPPING AWAY FROM THE CAMP AT NIGHT.
BORGE TOOK REPORTERS TO A SUGAR CANE FIELD BEHIND THE CAMP AND SHOWED THEM THREE BURNED BODIES HE SAID WERE SANDINISTAS SHOT TWO DAYS AGO BY NATIONAL GUARD TERRORISTS. BUT RED CROSS PRESIDENT ISMAEL REYES SAID HE HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING WHO THE BODIES WERE OR WHO HAD SHOT THEM.
IN A TENSE PRESS CONFERENCE OUTSIDE THE CAMP, REYES APPEARED DISTURBED BY BORGE'S COMMENTS. OTHER OFFICIALS OF BOTH THE NICARAGUAN AND INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS SAID THEY DID NOT KNOW IF THEY WOULD CONTINUE TO ADMINISTER THE CAMP SINCE THEIR JOB WAS TO FEED AND SHELTER REFUGEES, NOT TO TAKE CARE OF WAR PRISONERS.
REYES SAID THAT BORGE HAS PROMISED THAT THE WIVES AND CHILDREN OF THE GUARDSMEN WHO ALSO ARE STAYING AT THE CAMP WILL BE PERMITTED TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY.
LATE LAST WEEK, A CONVOY OF NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS ATTEMPTING TO ESCAPE TO HONDURAS KILLED SOME CIVILIANS SOUTH OF THE CITY OF ESTELI. ON SATURDAY NIGHT, TWO TRUCKLOADS OF ARMED MEN SHOT AT THE HOTEL HOUSING JUNTA GOVERNMENT MEMBERS, WOUNDED TWO SANDINISTAS, AND FLED.
AS THE LEVEL OF TENSION CONTINUES HIGH, THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALSO HAD PROBLEMS WITH ITS OWN PEOPLE - THE HUNDREDS OF YOUTHFUL MILITIA MEMBERS WHO AIDED THE SANDINISTAS DURING THE WAR AND HAVE NOW TAKEN IT UPON THEMSELVES TO PATROL THE STREETS ARMED WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS.
TWO U.S. photographers, driving through the capital at midnight last night were fired on and their cars destroyed by militiamen. The photographers were not injured.
"There are a lot of people walking around armed," Borge amditted yesterday. "It's a difficult problem, and we're trying to organizea mor structured police body." The militia youth, he said, "have no experience in this."
"It's still very dangerous to be in the streets," he said, "because these people are very inexpert, and very jealous of their revolution."
Daniel Ortega, a member of both the government junta and the Sandinista national directorate, said, "The idea is to get these kids into school. Many of them have no education. The adults will be integrated into production, to useful jobs as soon as the emergency period is over."
Both the junta and thd Sandinistas believe that terrorist "paramilitaries," whom they say are renegade National Guard soldiers and temporary escapees from the refugee centers, are a much greater problem, however.
Yesterday, a series of radio announcements began warning that snipers and "those engaged in terrorist acts" would be shot on the spot. Today, however, Borge said that meant only those who refused to give up when cornered by Sandinista troops.
"We will have to shoot back at anyone who shoots at us," he said.
Those in the camp will be investigated and then either set free or charged for acts committed under the previous government, Borge said.
"You can be witness to what we do to them," he added. "The journalists will fin the doors to all the jails in Nicaragua open to them, day and night." CAPTION: Picture, A Sandinista guerrilla, still with his automatic weapon, is pressed into service in Mangagua as a traffic policeman. UPI