.- A group of bishops in Nicaragua who went Monday to free a group of protesters who had taken refuge in a basilica the previous day were themselves assaulted by a pro-government group.
Protests against president Daniel Ortega which began April 18 have resulted in more than 300 deaths. The country’s bishops have mediated on-again, off-again peace talks between the government and opposition groups.
Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano of Managua, 69; his auxiliary, Bishop Silvio José Baez Ortega, 60; and Archbishop Waldemar Sommertag, 50, apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua, were surrounded July 9 when they tried to enter San Sebastian basilica in Diriamba, about 25 miles south of Managua.
Their route was blocked, and the pro-government groups called them murderers and liars. Among those trapped in the basilica were volunteer medics.
Bishop Baez posted a tweet showing a cut on his arm, and saying, “Besieged by an angry mob who wanted to enter the Basilica of San Sebastian in Diriamba, I was wounded, hit in the stomach, robbed of my episcopal insignia and verbally attacked. I am well, thanks be to God. The basilica was liberated, and those who were within.”
The Archdiocese of Managua called the attack committed “by persons close to the government and paramilitaries” was “condemnable and repudiable.”
The bishops were visiting Diriamba after what the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights reported as deadliest day in the country since the country’s unrest began more than two months ago.
The rights group said that 38 people were killed during clashes July 8. Of these, 31 were anti-government protesters, four were police officers, and three were members of pro-government groups. Most of those killed were in Diriamba and nearby Jinotepe.
Read more at Catholic News Agency.