Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto said yesterday that reports by the Honduran Defense Ministry that Nicaraguan troops had killed 200 Nicaraguan exiles within Honduras were "absurd" and "ridiculous."
In a telephone interview from his home in Managua, D'Escoto said the charges by the Honduran military were part of "a regular pattern" of responding to Nicaraguan protests about border incidents with "countercharges they cannot prove."
In Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, presidential press secretary Jonathan Russel said reports that 200 Nicaraguan refugees had been killed could not be confirmed until an official investigating mission reports from the border towns of Tipia, Auca and Mocoron. The Defense Ministry said yesterday that Nicaraguan forces had attacked the towns on Dec. 26 with heavy rifle and mortar fire.
Russel, whose comments were reported by Reuter news agency, said scores of Miskito Indian refugees in Honduras had been killed by Nicaraguan troops during the last five days of December.
Nicaraguan Foreign Minister D'Escoto said he had made two formal complaints to Honduras during the last two weeks of December accusing the Honduran military of "complicity" in activities of Nicaraguan opposition forces based in Honduras.
His first note, D'Escoto said, listed a number of cross-border attacks by exile groups opposed to Nicaragua's revolutionary government between Nov. 30 and Dec. 19. He said about a dozen Nicaraguans were killed and about 15 were "certainly kidnaped and taken into Honduran territory."
He said his second note "demanded an explanation" of the relationship between Miskito exile leader Steadman Fagoth and the Honduran military. Fagoth was injured last week in the crash of a Honduran Air Force plane that was also carrying a number of Honduran officers and at least two other Nicaraguan exiles, according to press reports from Tegucigalpa.
Fagoth heads an organization of Miskito and other Indians from Nicaragua that originally supported the Sandinista government but now is fighting against it.
D'Escoto said he had received no information from the Honduran government about the alleged killings by the Nicaraguan Army and no reports of such an incident from Nicaraguan authorities.
The Nicaraguan official said it is "absolutely obvious that some officers in the Honduran Army are cooperating irresponsibly with Nicaraguans who have publicly proclaimed they are preparing an invasion."
He added that two months ago he went to the Honduran border personally to "return the body of an officer of the Honduran Army," who was killed in a skirmish inside Nicaragua.