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article imageOne dead in anti-Ortega march in Nicaragua

By AFP     Sep 23, 2018 in World

An attack on a protest by opponents of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega left one person dead and at least five others wounded in the capital Managua, police said.

The deceased was identified as 16-year-old Max Romero, who died as a result of "crossfire," the police said in a statement on Sunday that attributed his death to the protesters, a version of events denied by the boy's aunt.

Months of turmoil in the Central American country have left more than 320 people dead, according to rights groups, but the unrest had declined in recent weeks before resurfacing at Sunday's march, which called for the release of political prisoners.

"I was shot and wounded by Daniel Ortega's paramilitaries," a 41-year-old protester who was wounded in the arm and who did not wish to reveal his name told AFP, as he was treated in a church in an eastern neighborhood of the city.

Fifteen-year-old Bryan Garcia, who was hit by a bullet, said: "It was the paramilitaries, they wounded me in the neck near the shoulder."

Among the wounded was journalist Winston Potosme of the 100% Noticias channel, who was hurt in the arm.

The march was convened by relatives of at least 500 protesters imprisoned for participating in anti-government demonstrations, which began on April 18.

Protesters took to the streets despite Ortega's threats they would be prosecuted if they demonstrated against him.

They were met by riot squads and government supporters from the beginning of the march in southeast Managua.

One woman told AFP the marchers, having being harassed, decided to alter their route to avoid a confrontation.

But riot police followed them, and an AFP journalist witnessed them form a cordon around the Las Americas neighborhood before shots were heard minutes later.

Some locals shouted "Murderers!" from surrounding homes.

Many protesters then dispersed, but those who continued were again met by police. An AFP journalist witnessed shots fired from a black truck toward a group of villagers protesting the police's presence -- but nobody was injured.

"Nicaragua does not need more repression or deaths. (It needs) urgent democracy, early elections and justice," said Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, in a statement posted on Twitter in the wake of the protest.

The Nicaraguan opposition accuses Ortega, in power since 2007, of establishing a corrupt dictatorship with his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo.

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