Panama The General Went to Work

But few others did as government opponents gained support

Shortly before sunrise, some 30 heavily armed security troops rode by truck into the posh residential neighborhood of Altos de Golf. Quickly, the Israeli- trained riot police fanned out in front of a white-walled house. Overhead, two Huey helicopter gunships hovered, soldiers and their machine guns peeking through the open doors. At 5:30 a.m., the first shots rang out.

Bullets flew from both sides of the white wall, turning the suburban street into a war zone. At 6:25, an officer picked up a megaphone and urged surrender. The message was directed at Colonel Roberto Diaz Herrera, Panama's former No. 2 military...