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1982: Argentina invades Falklands

VIDEO : Argentinians celebrate the invasion

Argentina has invaded the British territory of the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic.

The islands, off the coast of Argentina, have been a cause of friction between the two countries since Britain claimed them in 1833.

The Argentine flag is now flying over Government House in the Falkland Islands' capital, Port Stanley.

The head of the country's military junta, General Leopoldo Galtieri, has welcomed the "recovery" of "Las Malvinas" - the Argentine name for the Falklands.

General Galtieri said Argentina had been left with no option other than military action.

The invasion followed months of sabre-rattling and a build-up over the past few days of Argentine war ships off the Falkland Islands, home to about 1,800 people.

'Unprepared'

At 0600 on Friday Argentina began "Operation Rosario" when a unit of Argentine troops landed near Port Stanley.

The leader of the Argentine forces, Admiral Jorge Anaya, had contacted the Falklands' governor, Rex Hunt, to appeal for a peaceful surrender.

But the request was rejected and the 80 members of the Royal Marine regiment stationed on the island and 20 locals were mobilised.

But by early afternoon they were vastly outnumbered by about 3,000 Argentine troops.

After an attack on Government House during which one Argentine soldier is said to have been killed, Rex Hunt ordered the British troops to surrender.

No Falkland Islanders or Royal Marines died in the fighting though one serviceman is reported to be badly wounded.

The British Government has cut diplomatic ties with Argentina and started to assemble a large naval taskforce to reclaim the islands.

Questions are being asked as to why the government was so unprepared given two recent "invasions" by Argentine civilians of another British territory in the region.

In the latest incident in March they planted a flag on South Georgia, an uninhabited island 800 miles (1287 kilometres) north east of the Falklands.

In Context
The subsequent war cost the lives of 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen, many of them sailors who died during attacks on warships.

It ended on 14 June when the commander of the Argentine garrison at Port Stanley surrendered to British troops.

The victory greatly boosted the popularity of Margaret Thatcher's government which went on to win the next election.

General Galtieri was deposed and served three years in prison for military incompetence.

In July 2002 he was arrested on charges relating to the abduction, torture and death in 1980 of opponents of his military regime but died in January 2003 before coming to trial.

In October 1983 Argentina returned to civilian rule but it was 1990 before full diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom were restored.

However, Argentina still maintained its claim to the Falklands.


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