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Catholic leaders secure release of detainees at Nicaraguan church

.- Nicaraguan police have ended a day-long seige against a church after Catholic leaders intervened to release an estimated 30 opposition supporters taking refuge inside.

The negotiations were aided by Father Edwing Roman, a local priest in Masaya, and Dr. Álvaro Leiva, a human rights lawyer. The Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio Jose Báez, applauded the two men’s efforts.

“Free detainees in Masaya thanks to the good offices of Fr. Edwin Roman and Dr. Alvaro Leiva. Now in the parish house of the San Miguel parish, the injured continue to be attended to,” he tweeted on June 2.

Some 30 people had been seeking safe haven from riot-police and pro-government forces at San Miguel Church in Masaya. Before the refugees were released, doctors were given permission to treat the wounded opposition supporters. Two people have been reported dead.

Violence has been building in the country since April when Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega moved to make cuts to social security and pensions. He has since revoked the legislation, but protests have only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.

Protestors are calling for the resignation of President Ortega, who in 2016 was re-elected to his third consecutive term in power, after the constitution was changed allowing him to run again.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited four Nicaraguan cities from May 17-21 to document human right violations. The commission found that at least 76 people have died and 868 have been injured since the riots began.

College students are a major contributor to the opposition’s forces. In the capital city of Managua, the University of Central America has become a center for student-led anti-government activism.

Read more at Catholic News Agency. 

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