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Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
December 20, 2011
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Publication Date: 
May 29, 1987
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PDF icon CIA-RDP90-00965R000100250001-6.pdf152.72 KB
Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/20: CIA-RDP90-00965R000100250001-6 STAT WASHINGTON TIMES _MAY p91987 Three years later, Nicaraguan bombing is still anenigma B Glenn Garvin ! 3,4.- wtSM*NOtoN TIMES SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - When the bomb went off in a flash of blue light, Nelson Murillo, a Costs Rican televisoa cameraman. staggered across the room, clutching a gaping hole in his throat. "I'm drowning;' he gasped over the hideous gurgling from his own chest. Jose Venegas, a newspaper pho- tographer, reflexively snapped pic- ture after picture while at his feet someone moaned: "Save me, help me, don't leave me here" And Reid Miller, The Associated Press correspondent, leaned over his friend Linda Frazier, clutching her hand while her life drained away through her severed legs. Tbmorrow is the third anniver- sary of the bombing that made La Ponca -- a clutch of huts along the San Juan River just inside Nicara? gum, not even big enough to call a village - an international watchword for conspiracy, intrigue, and death. The bomb was planted at a press _ He was 6 feet tall, of medium conference in an attempt to ki qEd, eA _ bye, with dark red hair and a re- _s pti_tora. the charismatic and contro- ceding amine. His eyes were a dark f venial Nicaraguan guerrilla leader. biue-am He was in his earivto? He walked away from the blast with a mild burn on his face and a handful of shrapnel fragments embedded in his legs. But three journalists died and 18 others were wounded. Some are still trying to regain the use of arms and legs shattered by the blast. Others, whose physical injuries healed, have scars on their minds. La Pence has obsessed one re- porter, Tb Avg of ABC. He foes arcane a ter retort, spinning plot within plot, in an endless loop of paranoia and conspiracy. mid-30s and spoke excellent Span. ish, although linguists didn't believe he was a native speaker. He carried a stolen Danish pass- ot Fen Anker Hansen. in the name No one knew who "Hansen" was working for But he apparently wanted to kill Mr. Pastore very badly. He stalked him for welts, posing as a news photographer for a non- existent photo agenc$% it was odd His colleagues thought that he didn't snap photos in the con- stant. obsessive manner of most news photographers. And they thought it even odder that he insisted on carrying his gear in a heaMX bulky metal can. But in the Quirky, intense world of Central American journalism - where ideological camp followers, rookies toting Instamatica and 01- mercenaries stringing for obscure bi-annual magazines often mm to outnumber the legitimate newsmen - no one dwells too tong an oddities. And of course, nobody knew that "Ha son's" camera can contained a false bottom, or that inside was a homemade, radioactivated bomb. "Hansen" traveled around Latin America for four years, through Pa- nama, Mexico, Honduras, and Peru. He was in all those countries in the few months just before La Ponca. He often traveled with a woman who used a stolen French pa sport in the name of Panicia Anne Boons "Boone" also trawled to Nicara- cand had a mvWPWqa&rY vin that country, "Boon' was in 1/Z He is not alone. The four pounds .of C4 explosive that went off that night at La Ponca are still echoing. In the wake of the bombing, conspir- acy theories new like shrapnel, and because the bomber has never been found, they continue to multiply. Talcs your pick; there's a La Ponca theory for every ideology, The San- dinistas did it. The Cubans did it. Another Nicaraguan rebel group did it. Qaddafl did it. Costa Rican police did it. ThfifJ&d" Last ? Robert Owen, former State Department liaison to the Nicaraguan rebels, was forced to deny in front of Congress that he did it. Later this summer, when Oliver North testifies, he will certainly be asked what he knows about La Ponca. Thousands of newspaper stories have been written about the bomb- ing, but three years later there is still nothing that eontradiots a single paragraph that ran In the English- language weekly Tito Times two days after La Penca. "Who's to blame may now be known." Those who were then know who blame. Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/20: CIA-RDP90-00965R000100250001-6 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/20: CIA-RDP90-00965R000100250001-6 2? Costa Rica the day of the bombing, and like "Hansen;' vanished without a trace the next morning. Just a few days before La Pence, his colleagues recall, "Hansen" was deeply depressed. It didn't look like he would ever be able to catch up with Mr. Pastors to get any pictures. But on May 29, Mr. Pastorali assis- tants began calling a few journalists. There would be a press conference the next day in the guerrilla leader's camp at La Pence. He would prob- ably announce that he was quitting the Nicaraguan guerrilla movement -- again. Mr. Pastors was saws $an- nnundng that he was leaving the war. in a quarrel with other rebel leaders or with the CIA. Many of the other leaders hated him. So did the CIA, which thought he did too much talking and not enough fighting. On the other hand, so did the San- dinistas. Mr. Pastore had been a mili tary hero in the revolution that brought the Sandinistas to power and if there had been elections on the day the Sandinistas marched tri- umphantly into Managua, he would have been elected president hands- down. The Sandinistas feared Mr. Pastors for his charisma, and for his military skills. Sandinista newspapers often boasted about winning battles with the rebels in the north of the country, but they never ran a word about Mr. Pastors in the south. They didn't want to remind anyone he was around. On at least three well- documented occasions, the Sandin- ista tiled to kill Mr. Pastors or other officials of his organization with ex- ves. As other reporters crowded around Mr. Pastors on that fateful evening in La Pence, "Hansen" put his camera case dawn, announced in a loud voice that his camera wasn't working and stepped outside. Costs Rican television cameraman Jorge Qui oa, who would be dead in a few moments, inadvertently photo- graphed his murderer edging to- wards the door. A rebel soldier asked "Hansen" what he was doing. "Looking' for a That cams the flash of blue light, lbl awed by the Shrilly moaning Raid Millar of the AP thought the Sandinistas had launched a mortar attack. He crawled across the floor, paused briefly while he thought about grabbing a rifle, decided against it, and then slid down a two- by-four support beam to the ground and hid in a slit trench. After a few minutes, when there was no further attack, Mn Miller re- turned to the house. There he found his friend Linda Frazier, her heart still pumping blood efficiently out of bar logs. She was concious, and say. ing something, but Mr. Miller was quits deaf from the explosion. So he held her hand. They stayed there that way for a long time. Within hours, everyone had a fa- vorite suspect. The president of Costa Rica said that the bomb was planted by Sandinista spies inside Pastors% group. The Nicaraguan ambassador to Costa Rica said it looked the rebels themselves had decided to do away with Mr. s- tora. 'la'ss said it was the CIA. One Costa Rican newspaper, with- out a shred of evidence, even accused Linda Frazier of planting the bomb. All that day, her friends crept around hiding copies of the pa. per from her family. After the explosion, "Hansen" was discovered lying in a pile of oil drums, looking dazed. A photogra? pher snapped his picture, and wire services flashed it around the world. Ironically, the murderer himself came to symbolize the horror and confusion of La Peens. Of course, no one knew he was the murderer yet The rebels carried him out of La Pence in a boat, and the next day he reached San Jose, pecked his bags, and disappeared. It wasn't for several days, until investi- gators pinpointed the metal camera case as the origin of the explosion, that anyone began to look for him. A few days later, a nurse came into the hospital room where Mr. Miller was being treated for his wounds. The nurse put him in a wheelchair, and took him down the hall to the room where Mn Pastors was lying in bed. Mn Pastors fixed Miller with a tierce gaze. "All right," he roared. "Who was it?" Mn Miller just shook his hmA Last year Mi'Pastors announced be was leaving the, rebel ranks. H. rum Rica. a fish cooperative in Costar Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/20: CIA-RDP90-00965R000100250001-6