First Nicaragua-El Salvador battle

Nicaragua says a Salvadoran Coast Guard patrol invaded its territorial waters and fired on a Nicaragua government boat in the first open fighting between the two countries. A Defense Ministry communique said a Nicaraguan Navy sailor was critically wounded when the two vessels exchanged fire for one hour.

US military officials have charged that the Gulf of Fonseca, where the battle took place, is a major smuggling route for arms from Cuba to Salvadoran guerrillas.

Hours later, a Nicaraguan Army patrol clashed with 80 anti-Sandinista rebels believed to have come from Honduran camps in a battle that left 11 guerrillas and three soldiers dead near the Honduran border, the Defense Ministry said.

The events occurred while hopeful signals were coming from Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Victor Hugo Tinoco, who said that the US five-point peace proposal for Central America ''in global terms could be positive.'' But commenting on the plan, Interior Minister Tomas Borge Martinez said the US must first ''take back its treats of aggression against us.''

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