Nicaragua protest death toll at 317, rights group says

Protests in Nicaragua against the government of President Daniel Ortega that broke out in Aprial have turned increasingly violent, with the death toll reaching 317, according to Human Rights investigators

The death toll in violent protests in Nicaragua against the government of President Daniel Ortega stands at 317, a US-based regional rights group said Thursday.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said that the death toll since protests broke out on April 18 includes 21 police officers and 23 underage victims.

The figures were confirmed by personnel in Nicaragua, the IACHR -- an autonomous branch of the Washington-based Organization of American States -- said in a statement.

According to Nicaraguan rights groups, more than 300 people have been killed and 2,000 wounded in more than three months of unrest against the Ortega administration. Ortega puts the toll at 195.

The IACHR called on Nicaragua to "fulfill its international obligations concerning human rights," and urged government officials to investigate "each one of these crimes."

The United States, the OAS and the Vatican all support demands from protesters that Ortega -- in power since 2007 -- resign, or at least agree to hold early elections.

Ortega claims that the country would plunge into "anarchy" if he left power before the end of his mandate in early 2022.

Some 1,900 people have been arrested in the protests, of whom around a quarter remain locked up, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights. And at least 98 people have been convicted of terrorism and other serious crimes carrying penalties of up to 20 years in prison, the group said.

Protests in Nicaragua against the government of President Daniel Ortega that broke out in Aprial have turned increasingly violent, with the death toll reaching 317, according to Human Rights investigators