News In Brief

Salvadorean chief admits civilians killed in battle

A Salvadorean battalion commander has admitted his troops killed civilians in an anti-guerrilla offensive but denied that it was a deliberate massacre, US officials said Saturday.

Col. Domingo Monterrosa, in charge of the offensive earlier this month by the elite US-trained Atlacatl Battalion, said he could not ''deny the fact that civilians were killed,'' the officials said.

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The officials said Monterrosa's statement contradicted an earlier army statement that said bodies and drowning victims discovered by reporters were ''subversives.''

Reporters who visited the village of San Nicolas on Wednesday were told by survivors and relatives that soldiers had shot 20 women and children and drowned another 30 people by driving them into a nearby lake with machine gun fire.

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