Nicaragua: 38 Killed During Clashes On Sunday, Local Human Rights Group Says

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights says 38 people were killed during clashes on Sunday. This makes it the deadliest day since the anti-government protests began in April. The local human rights group said 31 of the deaths were from those protesting against the government. The other seven deaths were police officers and government supporters.

The clashes have continued since April but have gotten deadlier in recent weeks. The human rights group had previously said that the number of deaths was at 14 but made it clear that the number would probably increase.

Changes Sparked Crisis

Vilma Nuñez, the president of the human rights group, told BBC Mundo that 35 people had been killed in the towns of Jinotepe and Diriamba. Three more lost their lives in Matagalpa. She said most of the deaths happened during clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces and government supporters trying to remove roadblocks.

Nicaragua’s crisis began after the government announced changes to the social security system. The changes drew anger from the population, with many of them taking the streets to protest.

The clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces began shortly after. The government decided to cancel its plans a few days after the changes were announced. The cancellation didn’t end the clashes and it quickly turned into demands for the president to leave his position.

Talks Broke Down In May

Reports say more than 300 people have lost their lives since the protests began nearly three months ago. In May, a dialogue between students and the government opened. The talks between the two sides broke down just days later. The students were demanding for Ortega to step down.

The government says the protesters are planning a coup d’etat against Ortega. In November 2016, Ortega was elected to a third consecutive term. Ortega was also president of Nicaragua from 1985 to 1990.

Incidents Reported At Churches

Sunday’s clashes are the deadliest since the protests began in April. In Jinotepe and Diriamba, there were reports of government supporters breaking into churches that protesters had entered. Bishop Silvio Jose Baez posted a picture of the injuries he suffered on his arm when he tried to enter the church. In the tweet, he explained that he was attacked by an angry crowd.

The incidents at the churches forced the Catholic Church to suspend the groups that were involved in the talks between the protesters and the government.