10 dead in Nicaragua protests over planned pension cuts

April 21 (UPI) — At least 10 people have died in Nicaragua since protests over proposed social security pension cuts started Wednesday, officials said Saturday.

The violence began Wednesday in the capital of Managua when protesters took to the streets setting fires and throwing rocks as police responded with tear gas, according to the CNN report. The demonstrators were protesting planned changes to the social security, which would result in workers paying more to contribute to the social security system, but receiving cuts in pension when they retire.

Thousands of students and workers had joined the protest by Thursday, the Financial Express reported. Among the dead are two protesters and a policeman killed in Managua on Friday. At least 100 people have been injured.

The violence has been the deadliest unrest since President Daniel Ortega returned to office in 2007. Public buildings were set on fire, the government said, and students barricaded a Polytechnic University campus in Managua.

Protesters accused police of instigating violence and stations were taken off air after live broadcasts.

Vice President Rosario Murillo compared the violence to “vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda,” but said government was still open to talking with protesters.

The U.N. Human Rights Office has condemned the violence against protesters.

“We call on the Nicaraguan authorities to act to prevent further attacks on demonstrators and on the media,” U.N. Human Rights Office Spokeswoman Liz Throssell said in a statement Friday. “The Nicaraguan State should abide by its international obligations to ensure that people are able to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly and association. We also urge those demonstrating to do so peacefully.”

.