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At least two more die in fresh Nicaragua clashes

© AFP/File | Anti-government demonstrators hold a protest demanding Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, stand down, in Managua on May 26, 2018

MANAGUA (AFP) - 

At least two more people died during violent protests overnight, a Nicaraguan rights group said Saturday, bringing to 137 the death toll since demonstrations demanding President Daniel Ortega's ouster sparked in mid-April.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) told AFP that one person had been killed in the northern city of Jinotega and another in Managua.

The young man who died in Jinotega was killed during an armed attack on protesters who were guarding a road barricade intended to keep security forces back, according to student organizers.

"Paramilitaries linked to the government gunned down boys who were fighting in the streets for liberty and democracy," said a statement from the city's student movement, calling it "a night of terror."

In Managua, a young motorcyclist died from a bullet to the neck after two armed men aboard motorcycles chased and shot him, according to local press.

Demonstrators continued to block roads throughout Nicaragua as part of the mass protests demanding the ouster of Ortega, a former guerrilla who has held office for 11 years but who faces increasing opposition, even from onetime allies.

The country's influential Catholic bishops met Thursday with Ortega to discuss a plan to reboot talks to quell the crisis, presenting "the pain and anguish of people who have suffered in recent weeks" to the leftist leader.

Silvio Jose Baez, the auxiliary bishop of Managua, said Ortega "asked us for a period of reflection to give us an answer, which we asked he give us in writing" -- after which they will consider the feasibility of reviving talks.

© 2018 AFP