2 Student Protesters Killed in Bloody Nicaragua Church Siege

At least two students have died during a siege on a church where dozens of protesters had sought refuge after unrest in Nicaragua.

The students, who had been taking part in protests on a day of a national strike, came under attack from pro-government forces and became trapped in the church on Friday evening.

More than 300 people have died during months of anti-government protests with many calling for the resignation of President Daniel Ortega.

In a fresh outbreak of violence, a group of about 150 students were holed up in a church building close to the main university in the capital, Managua, along with priests and journalists.

“We were told that there were two dead and several wounded,” said Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes as he arrived at the church of the Divine Mercy to mediate between the parties.

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

Before the siege ended, a few injured protesters were allowed to leave, while the death of a policeman was reported following clashes between protesters and a counter pro-government demonstration.

The Catholic Church, which has been acting as a mediator in stalled talks between the government and the protesters, has denounced the violence.

A wave of protests against the government triggered by changes to the social security system announced on 18 April widened and quickly turned into demands that President Ortega step down.

The government accuses the protesters of plotting a coup d’etat against the president, and also accuses the protesters of holding the country hostage by blocking roads and disrupting normal life.

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