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World

2 Students Killed In Nicaragua

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The bloodshed continues in Nicaragua, even as the U.N. and Pope Francis call for an end to the crackdown on protests against President Daniel Ortega. The recent ramping up of state violence targeted students occupying the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in Managua with two deaths and many injuries reported. Maria Martin has more.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Speaking Spanish).

MARIA MARTIN, BYLINE: Late Friday, Ortega's security forces and paramilitaries attacked students who'd been occupying the university for almost two months. Students hid behind barricades and prayed. One young woman apologized to her mother for having defied her to come to the protest.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTIN: "I just have to save my country," she said. Students like her have been on the frontlines of this rebellion since it started April 18, first as a protest against now-rescinded changes in public pensions, then as a full-fledged call to end the authoritarian rule of the man many of their grandparents had fought alongside, the once-admired revolutionary Sandinista hero Daniel Ortega.

EMILIANO: Our feeling towards the students is total admiration.

MARTIN: Thirty-three-year-old Emiliano, who once worked for the Sandinista government, now supports the protesters. But for a long time, he accepted Ortega's rule. Like many Nicaraguans, Emiliano was weary of so many years of war in the '70s and '80s, including the almost 10-year-old contra war financed by the U.S. But then, the students rose up.

EMILIANO: It took 200 boys and girls that bravely came out to the streets and were beaten up. And then the students woke up, and then a whole country that was asleep woke up.

MARTIN: About midday Saturday, students trapped by Ortega's forces in a church were escorted out by religious leaders to the national cathedral for refuge as a convoy of Nicaraguans cheered their bravery.

For NPR News, I'm Maria Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.