Nicaragua unrest: Six killed as protests continue

Riot police and protesters clash in Masaya as death toll from more than a month of unrest exceeds 100.

    At least six people have been killed in Nicaragua on Saturday as political unrest that has plagued the country for more than month continued. 

    The Nicaraguan Association for the Protection of Human Rights (ANPDH) said the dead included a 15-year-old boy, as well as one police officer. 

    Residents set up barricades to protect themselves from what they said were police and pro-government paramilitaries. 

    Managua's auxiliary Roman Catholic Bishop Silvio Baez called on people in Masaya to stay indoors and warned of snipers. 

    "The situation is very difficult. I have been told there are multiple snipers ready to shoot!" he said on Twitter.

    Police blamed the violence on criminal groups with firearms and mortars who they said carried out "terrorist acts".

    Police in riot gear riding on the back of pick-up trucks fire their shotguns towards university students taking part in a protest against Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega in Managua. [Esteban Felix/AP Photo]

     

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    In the capital of Managua, a US citizen was shot dead. According to ANPDH, the 48-year-old was killed by a pro-government mob. Police attributed the killing to anti-government protesters. 

    US Ambassador Laura Dogu expressed her condolences in a tweet and said: "The death of a US citizen is of great concern to our embassy".

    Police reported looting, fires and riots in cities including Masaya and Managua between Friday and the early hours of Saturday.  

    'Lethal force'

    The violence comes days after 16 were killed in anti-government protests on Nicaragua's Mother's Day. 

    More than 100 people have died in the country since the unrest began in April. 

    Protesters have taken to the streets, demanding President Daniel Ortega stand down. Authorities have been accused of using "lethal force" to crack down on the protests. 

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    Ortega, a former Sandinista rebel who first ruled between 1979 and 1990 before returning as president 11 years ago, has kept power by maintaining leftist rhetoric while ensuring an accommodation with powerful private industry and keeping up trade with the United States. 

    But demonstrators have voiced frustration over corruption, the autocratic style of Ortega and Murillo, limited options to change the country's politics in elections, and the president's control over Congress, the courts, the military and the electoral board.

    A masked protester shoots off his homemade mortar in the Monimbo neighborhood during clashes with police, in Masaya, Nicaragua. [Esteban Felix/AP Photo]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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