Six students hurt in clashes with police in Nicaragua

Managua (AFP) –


At least six students were hurt Thursday when Nicaraguan police and civilian supporters raided a university searching for activists calling for the ouster of President Daniel Ortega, a protest movement spokeswoman said.

Police "attacked" students at the Universidad Politecnica in the capital Managua at 1 am (0700 GMT), student spokeswoman Scarleth Espinoza said at a news conference.

"The police entered and attacked us along with groups of civilians, possible members of the Young Sandinistas," associated with Ortega's ruling party, said another student at the news conference who declined to be identified.

According to the students, the police raid resulted in "six wounded, one of them seriously" who was hospitalized.

The protests against Ortega erupted on April 18 and claimed at least 45 lives, according to human rights groups. Officials stopped updating their toll after counting 10 deaths in the first three days.

Initially triggered by reforms to cut spending on Nicaragua's deficit-laden social security system -- later abandoned by Ortega -- the protests swelled to include other grudges against the 72-year-old president, seen by many as autocratic and distant.

The protests are the worst Ortega has faced in the past 11 years, since the leftist former Sandinista rebel returned to power after a lengthy stint in opposition.

The demonstrations however have become more peaceful in recent days. Ortega has said he is willing to hold talks to calm the situation but made few moves to follow through.

The students said Thursday that "after this attack" they did not see sufficient "security to take part in dialogue."

They called for renewed street protests and a national strike. The students have also already demanded an independent commission be set up to investigate the protest deaths, and given a deadline of next Tuesday.

Students and the political opposition have called for a nationwide demonstration for next Wednesday.