Ex-official: Nicaragua behind 1984 Costa Rica bomb

AP News
Posted: Aug 26, 2011 11:08 PM
Ex-official: Nicaragua behind 1984 Costa Rica bomb

A former Nicaraguan official said Friday that the country's Sandinista government was behind the bomb that killed three journalists and four rebels at a 1984 news conference in neighboring Costa Rica.

While the bombing had once been blamed on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, reports began surfacing in the 1990s that it had been part of a plot by the Sandinista government to kill Contra rebel leader Eden Pastora, who survived and still lives.

Luis Carrion, who served as assistant interior minister in the Sandinista government in the 1980s, told The Associated Press that his department arranged the bombing in attempt to kill Pastora, who was giving the conference.

"I can confirm it," Carrion said.

The Sandinista government fought a 10-year war with U.S.-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas were unseated in 1990 elections that ended the war, but then-president Daniel Ortega returned to the presidency in 2006.

Two Costa Ricans, four Nicaraguan rebels and U.S. journalist Linda Frazier were killed and more than 20 other people were wounded in the attack at the village of La Penca, near the Nicaraguan border.

Costa Rican authorities said at the time that they suspected the bomb was planted by a Danish journalist named Per Anker Hansen in a CIA plot to kill Pastora. The bomb went off in Hansen's camera case.

Pastora, then known as Commander Zero, defected from Sandinista ranks and started a Contra rebel group. But his group refused to cooperate with other Contra organizations.

The man identified as Hansen disappeared from a San Jose hospital where he was recovering from wounds.

He is now believed to have been Vital Gaguine, a leftist Argentine guerrilla who was hired by the Sandinistas to kill Pastora. Gaguine reportedly died Jan. 23, 1989, during a rebel attack on a military barracks in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital.