Pope Francis calls for end to violence as police are accused of using live rounds against demonstrators
The death toll from anti-government protests in Nicaragua has risen to 25 as the national police were accused of using live rounds against demonstrators.
Those killed include ngel Gahona, a journalist who was shot dead while presenting a live broadcast on protests in Bluefields, a town on the countrys Caribbean coast.
Grainy, night-time footage shows Gahona holding up a mobile phone as he approaches city hall, reporting live via Facebook on four days of protests in the Central American country.
Seconds later a gunshot rings out and Gahona slumps lifeless to the kerb. Voices cry his name and someone presses a piece of cloth to his head to try to staunch the stream of blood. Footage of the incident quickly spread on to local and social media.
According to human rights groups, 25 people have died since 18 April in unrest over social security reforms planned by the government of president Daniel Ortega. At least 67 people have been shot by the police with live rounds or rubber bullets, or beaten by members of the Sandinista Youth and other pro-government groups. A further 43 people were reported to have disappeared over the weekend.
Speaking to tens of thousands of people during his Sunday address in St Peters Square, Rome, Francis called for an end to every form of violence and asked people to avoid the useless shedding of blood.
Francis, the first Latin American pope, called for differences to be resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility.
Snipers were reportedly placed in Nicaraguas national stadium to shoot at protesters holed up in Managuas cathedral. The demonstrators symbolically pulled down one of the brightly coloured Tree of Life sculptures erected in the capital by the vice-president, Rosario Murillo, Ortegas wife.
The disturbances turned increasingly violent on Friday, with police using teargas and live rounds against protesters armed with stones.
In the city of Len, university offices were torched after riot police broke up a peaceful protest. The ruling Sandinista National Liberation Fronts digital publication El 19 Digital blamed the fires on groups of vandals, but protesters claimed they were started by government sympathisers to justify its increasingly repressive measures.
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