Eleven killed in Nicaragua protests, including attack on Mother's Day march

By Oswaldo Rivas
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By Oswaldo Rivas MANAGUA (Reuters) - Eleven people were killed on Wednesday in one of the worst days of violence since protests against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega began more than a month ago, a rights group said on Thursday. The bloodshed was condemned by the Central American country's Episcopal conference of Catholic bishops, who called it "organized and systematic aggression" and suspended talks with the government scheduled for Thursday. Witnesses said pro-government armed groups opened fire on the marchers during a demonstration on Wednesday, Nicaragua's Mother's Day. The march was held to remember the children who were among the more than 80 killed since the start of protests more than a month ago. The Nicaraguan Human Rights Center said six people were killed in the capital of Managua, with five others killed in other parts of the country and 79 injured. The army said it was treating some of the injured. The European Parliament on Thursday condemned what it called "brutal repression" in Nicaragua and called for elections to be held earlier, echoing other calls for Ortega make the 2021 presidential election earlier. In a letter to Ortega published on Twitter, business association COSEP urged the 72-year-old president to push up the vote to a date agreed between the government and civilian representatives. "Given the magnitude of this crisis, we urge you to undertake every effort in your power to find a peaceful solution before we find ourselves immersed in an even more tragic situation," the letter said. Ortega told supporters that Nicaragua "is not private property" in response to the COSEP demand, local newspaper La Prensa reported. Proposed changes to Nicaragua's social security system last month triggered the student-led protests. (Additional reporting by Delphine Schrank and Tomas Bravo in Mexico City; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Jeffrey Benkoe)