Bogot'a, Colombia — Troops using dynamite blasted into the Palace of Justice yesterday. They fought their way to the rebels' fourth-floor stronghold, where the leftists held hostages for a second day. The Supreme Court president and seven other judges were among those reported held. The Army said 17 people have died in the fighting since rebels with the M-19 guerrilla movement shot their way into the building Wednesday.
The Army said it thought the rebels still held about 10 hostages, after armored car barrages and troop assaults had freed scores of captives. But federal judge Reynaldo Arciniegas, released by the guerrillas yesterday, put the figure at eight judges and 50 total hostages in an interview with Bogot'a radio station RCN.
The rebels sent Judge Arciniegas out with a message for President Belisario Betancur, Army Col. Alfonso Pl'azas said.
Colonel Pl'azas said the rebels claimed in the note that they had 70 combatants inside the charred, smoldering building and had enough weapons and ammunition for a long siege.
The rebels, according to Plazas, also said they want President Betancur to name his brother, federal judge Jaime Betancur, and a federal senator, Jos'e Manuel Arias, to mediate the standoff between the rebels and the government.
A source close to the President said that the government will not negotiate with the insurgents of the April 19 Movement, known in Colombia as M-19.
A rebel commander in the building told a radio station by phone, ``Betancur is irresponsible; he is refusing to open negotiations or to receive telephone calls from the Supreme Court president.''
Guerrillas apparently set the fires to destroy court records. Witnesses said flames still shot from windows yesterday morning.
In Washington, White House spokesman Larry Speakes deplored the violence ``as an act of terrorism'' and commended the government's counterattack.
In June the rebels broke a year-long truce with government security forces.
The April 19 Movement takes its name from the April 19, 1970, presidential election, which dissidents claim was fraudulent.
Islamic Jihad claim of killing Americans is unsupported
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Fed has ruled out pushing up interest rates, Volcker says
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Marcos orders Filipino troops to barracks at election time
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Floodwaters lap monuments, tie up traffic in Washington
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FBI agent accused of spying to be retried, prosecution says
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Romanian sailor wins US asylum
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World chess tournament on eve of a photo finish
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Senator Biden accuses Meese of `social activism of the right'
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Senate panel issues subpoena for Soviet sailor to appear
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Faulty canal lock reopened, clearing course for seaway
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