Nicaraguan protesters killed by police, paramilitary groups: NGO

Irving Hamilton
July 16, 2018

Three students were killed after clashes at Managua's main university campus.

Students who were evacuated from the church will be transferred to the Cathedral of Managua, according to reports.

At least one student has died during an attack on a church where dozens of protesters had sought shelter after more violence erupted in Nicaragua.

Human rights organisations say at least six civilians were killed along with four members of the security forces.

More than 300 people have died during months of anti-government protests.

Reuters could not independently verify the deaths.

The mother who reported a death said the students spent the night crouched on the church floor fearing for their lives as the gunmen fired shots that ricocheted inside the church. She requested not to give her last name for fear of reprisals.

"They are going to destroy Masaya, it is absolutely surrounded", Vilma Nunez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), told AFP.

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More than 200 students have been freed from a siege in a church in Nicaragua following a deal that Catholic bishops helped secure.

The Nicaraguan Bishops' Conference said the young man killed in the church attack had been hit in the head by a bullet during what it referred to as a fierce assault carried out by police and paramilitary forces.

The bishops' conference, which has been trying to mediate between the two sides, issued a statement late Saturday accusing the government of refusing to "dialogue sincerely and look for real processes that lead us toward a true democracy".

Francisco Palmieri, the USA principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, on Twitter condemned what he called attacks by pro-government forces against the UNAN students.

IACHR chief Paulo Abrao said on Twitter that he was aware of "the violent repression of towns in Masaya".

Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted on Friday night that if USA staff or their families were harmed, Ortega would "personally face severe repercussions".

The current unrest began in April when Ortega proposed reducing pension benefits to ease budgetary pressures. The changes were quickly reversed, but protests took on a wider call for Ortega to step down.

A nationwide strike emptied streets on Friday as businesses shut their doors in response to civil society groups' calls for early elections.

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