Two killed in fresh Nicaragua clashes after talks collapse

León (Nicaragua) (AFP) –


At least two people were killed and 50 wounded as clashes flared in Nicaragua after peace talks between the government and opposition collapsed, the Red Cross and victims' relatives said.

The clashes broke out late Wednesday between opposition demonstrators and pro-government groups, with the worst occurring in Leon, northwest of the capital Managua.

A 31-year-old man, Manuel Chevez, was shot dead when government-linked groups tried to evict students and residents from a barricade on the main road to Leon, the man's aunt Justa Ramirez told AFP.

A second man, identified as Luis Diaz and belonging to the pro-government group, was allegedly struck by a home-made mortar bomb, local Red Cross director Marcio Ocon told AFP.

During the clashes, which lasted about five hours, 54 people were wounded by a mixture of gunfire, rubber bullets and blunt instruments, according to the Red Cross.

Chevez's aunt said he had been shot by a rifle. "He was shot with an AK, because it is a shot from an AK that he has on his forehead," she said.

Clashes also occurred in other Nicaraguan cities after week-long talks mediated by the Catholic Church to quell a month of unrest broke down.

The unrest was initially triggered by protests against social security reforms, but broadened into a rejection of the rule of President Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo.

Since the protests began on April 18, 76 people have been killed and more than 800 wounded, according to a preliminary report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, submitted before Wednesday's clashes.