Death toll in Nicaragua protests reaches 273, human rights group says - UPDATED

  16 July 2018    Read: 1681
Death toll in Nicaragua protests reaches 273, human rights group says - UPDATED

At least 273 people have died and 2,000 have been injured in the unrest that's rocked Nicaragua since April, according to the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), CNN reported.

The death toll includes two men killed Friday night in Managua in an hours-long attack by pro-government forces on protesters at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, the strongest protest holdout in the capital, said Paulo Abrao, executive secretary for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the OAS.

The protesters, who the government labeled as terrorists, had sought refuge inside a Catholic church and at least one of them died inside the parish as the church was hemmed in by gunfire, Abrao said.

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10:37

Nicaraguan police and paramilitary groups loyal to President Daniel Ortega killed at least 10 people on Sunday, a human rights association said, as the death toll from violent clashes in the Central American country continues to rise, Reuters reported.

The people were killed when government forces attacked the community of Monimbo and nearby city of Masaya, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) southeast of the capital, Managua, said Alvaro Leiva of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights.

“We are talking about more than 10 deaths at this time,” Leiva told a local television station.

The government could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nearly three months of clashes between pro-Ortega forces and demonstrators calling for his removal have claimed over 300 lives, in the bloodiest protests in Nicaragua since the country’s civil war ended in 1990.

On Saturday, bishops secured the release of dozens of student protesters trapped overnight inside a church under a hail of gunfire from armed pro-government supporters, who killed at least one person inside, a human rights group said.

Nicaragua has been convulsed by unrest since April, when Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader, proposed reducing pension benefits to ease budgetary pressures.

Though the plan was later dropped, it provoked violent clashes and calls for Ortega to step down.

Student leader Lester Aleman, who is among the protesters spearheading the demand for Ortega to step down, told reporters that he wanted a “halt to the repression.”

A nationwide strike emptied streets on Friday as businesses shut their doors, heeding calls by civil society groups who want Ortega to resign and stage early elections.

 


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