Mon, Aug 03, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Zelaya followers train to return him to Honduras

, NUEVA SEGOVIA, Nicaragua

Forward, march: a ragtag band of barefoot fighters takes orders from a commander, training in a muddy field near the Honduran border as that country’s deposed president threatens an insurrection.

“Either the coup is reversed or generalized violence is coming,” Manuel Zelaya warned in an interview on Friday with Nicaragua’s state-owned Channel 4 TV.

Barring his return is an interim government in Tegucigalpa headed by Roberto Micheletti, who has adamantly rejected any compromise that would involve Zelaya’s reinstatement as president.

So here in a mountainous area of Nicaragua that borders Honduras, Zelaya supporters are bracing to fight back, showing off their willingness to take up arms to see him returned to power.

A young tattooed fighter who said he was in the Honduran army under Zelaya was teaching troops a maneuver to knock a weapon out of an opponent’s hand.

“It is an exercise to avoid shooting,” said the young man who asked not to be named, as did his friends in training.

After watching the instruction, a 50-year-old farmer tried to imitate the move, and wound up falling to the ground with a loud thud.

“That’s OK, that’s OK,” the trainer reassured him, while younger recruits smiled and waited their turns.

The camp has been abuzz since Zelaya’s pledge on Friday to form a militia.

Training for what the Honduran called a “people’s army” was under way with a green light from Zelaya’s ally, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

About 300 backers descended on the border village of Ocotal just

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