Gunmen free two in Nicaraguan hostage crisis

MANAGUA (Reuter) - Left-wing gunmen holding hostage Nicaragua's Vice-President and a score of other conservative politicians freed two prisoners yesterday, witnesses said.

The gunmen, who are still holding Vice-President Virgilio Godoy, 19 members of the National Opposition Union (UNO) political alliance and about eight journalists at a building in the capital, Managua, released the lower-level UNO politicians Humberto Dona and Roberto Moreira on health grounds.

But the leader of a group of right-wing guerrillas, who in a separate stand-off are holding hostage 18 government officials and Sandinista politicians in the remote northern village of El Zungano, backtracked on an earlier accord to free all their prisoners, adding new conditions for their release.

Jose Angel Talavera, a former Contra rebel, also known as El Chacal (The Jackal), said that their freedom still depended on the ousting of the chief of Nicaragua's armed forces, General Humberto Ortega.

His statement, made after the release of 20 of his hostages, was a reversal of a pledge made on Sunday to release all his prisoners in return for lesser government concessions.

'Their freedom depends on agreements with the government,' Mr Talavera said. Asked what such agreements would have to cover, he replied: 'The question of Humberto Ortega.'

Mr Talavera, who took his hostages last Thursday, has been demanding that Gen Ortega and the presidential chief-of-staff, Antonio Lacayo, be fired. He accuses them of conspiring to allow the former governing Sandinistas to retain power in Nicaragua despite their 1990 election defeat by President Violeta Chamorro.

The stand-off reflects the bitter divisions left by the country's brutal eight-year civil war between the Sandinistas and US-backed Contras. The war, which ended in 1990, cost some 30,000 lives. An estimated 1,400 former Contras and some demobilised Sandinistas have rearmed in recent months.

On Sunday, Mr Talavera's forces pledged to free all their hostages in return for a government promise to stop military operations in the north of the country, where Mr Talavera is based. He did not sign the accord but his brother and chief lieutenant, Salvador, did so after consulting the guerrilla leader.

In Managua, the left-wing gunmen seized Mr Godoy on Friday together with UNO leaders to press for the release of Mr Talavera's prisoners.

Earlier yesterday a representative of the Organisation of American States, Sergio Caramagna, who was part of a commission which negotiated the release of 20 of Mr Talavera's hostages on Sunday, said that he hoped the whole hostage crisis could be resolved quickly.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: Field Marketing Manage

£25k - 40k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Development Manager

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas