Managua, Jul 25 : A Brazilian medical student and three other people have been killed amid unrest that has rocked this Central American nation for over three months, her university and a human rights group reported Tuesday.
Rayneia Lima, whose age varied between 29 and 31 in different reports, was riding in a vehicle in the capital Monday night when it was riddled by bullets that struck several vital organs, said Ernesto Medina, rector of the American University of Managua.
Medina said the shots came from armed pro-government civilians who have taken over the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua since July 13, as Lima was traveling near that campus.
He added that Lima was a sixth-year student and practicing resident at the police-run Carlos Roberto Huembes Hospital in Managua.
In a statement, Nicaragua’s National Police attributed her death to a “private security guard,” saying he opened fire “under circumstances that have not yet been determined.”
Brazil’s Foreign Ministry expressed its “profound indignation” over the killing and said it was seeking clarification from Nicaragua’s government.
“The Brazilian government again condemns the deepening repression, the disproportionate and lethal use of force and the use of paramilitary groups in operations coordinated by security forces,” the ministry said in a statement.
It urged Nicaragua to punish those responsible for the killing and also “to guarantee the free exercise of individual rights and public liberties.”
In an interview broadcast Tuesday night, President Daniel Ortega blamed the start of the violence in April on “interventionism” by the United States and Nicaragua’s private sector, which broke off its support for his government.
Dialogue with President Donald Trump to alter U.S. policies toward Nicaragua would be “ideal,” Ortega said on Telesur, a news outlet in Venezuela, whose socialist government is a close ally of his administration.
According to the non-governmental Nicaraguan Pro-Human Rights Association, at least 351 people have been killed in political unrest that erupted in April. What began as protests against proposed social security cuts later broadened into calls for President Daniel Ortega to leave office after security forces and pro-government civilian militias began a deadly crackdown.
Alvaro Leiva, the association’s director, said Monday that three people were killed, 25 wounded and 15 detained Monday in the city of Jinotega when police and paramilitaries attacked protest barricades.
The violence came hours after Ortega said in an interview with Fox News that the country was returning to normal.
“The disturbances have ceased over the last week in the country and things are on course for normalization,” the president said in his first interview with an independent news outlet in nine years.
He also rejected calls for early elections and denied having any responsibility for attacks on Roman Catholic clergy or killings of civilians, blaming the violence on his political opponents and foreign interests.
That is counter to what international organizations and Nicaraguan rights groups have documented. Last week the Organization of American States adopted a resolution condemning human rights abuses committed by Nicaraguan security forces and their armed civilian backers.
In a critical tweet on Monday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said: “State-sponsored violence in Nicaragua is undeniable. Ortega’s propaganda fools no one and changes nothing. 350+ dead at the hands of the regime. The US calls on the Ortega government to end the violence NOW and hold early elections — the world is watching!”
Ortega has also accused those demanding he leave office of being coup plotters.
Leiva denounced what he called a “fierce persecution” against protesters, saying that during a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday more than 750 people had been abducted “by paramilitaries in a clear violation of human rights.”