No fewer than 24 people have died in days of clashes between protesters and security forces in Nicaragua, a rights group said Sunday, as looting also gripped parts of the Central American country.
The unrest erupted Wednesday over pension reforms, with students a prominent group.
A robust response ordered by leftist President Daniel Ortega has seen the army deployed to the streets, independent media muzzled, journalists assaulted and pro-government demonstrators mobilised to counter the protests.
The European Union, the United States and the Vatican have expressed concern at the situation and called for calm.
The Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights told AFP that at least 24 people were killed since Wednesday, according to a toll it has compiled.
The centre’s director, Vilma Nunez, warned that there was “a lot of misinformation” going around that made obtaining the figure difficult.
On Friday, the government put the number of people killed in two days of protests at 10. No more recent official toll has yet been made available.
On Saturday, a local journalist, Miguel Angel Gahona, was shot dead by a bullet in the city of Bluefields, on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Some local media reports said a police sniper was suspected to be responsible.
Looting was seen at stores in Managua. In some locations, armed store owners stood guard outside their premises to stop mobs from entering.
Parts of the capital were strewn with rubble, remnants of clashes between demonstrators and riot police.