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On Saturday, journalist Angel Gahona was reporting live via Facebook on protests in the southeastern city of Bluefields when he was killed by a gunshot.

The government's reforms, signed April 18 and set to take effect July 1, increase worker social security contributions by 0.75 percent, increase employer contributions by 3.5 percent, and redirects 5 percent of retirees' pensions to covering costs of health services.

Police on Thursday said one 33-year-old officer had been shot dead.

People with goods looted from a store walk pushing a shopping trolley along a street after a protest over a controversial reform to the pension plans of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) in Managua, Nicaragua April 22, 2018.

The president criticized the demonstrators, comparing them with gangs that bleed the north of Central America and said that his only interlocutor to get out of the crisis was private enterprise.

Nicabus, an worldwide bus line with links to Costa Rica and Honduras, said it had suspended services due to the violence.

There were more clashes at the Polytechnical University of Nicaragua, one of the strongest bastions of the protesters.

"We need to shut down the country to solve this in the face of the killings and the violence being generated on all sides of the protests", Latino said.

The police crackdown on demonstrators and curbs on some media in the past few days have fuelled broader criticism of Ortega, who has tightened his hold on the country's institutions since he took office for a second time 11 years ago.

He was elected president in 1984, but a civil war, which pitted the Sandinistas against USA backed right wing Contra rebels, hurt his popularity, and he was voted out in 1990. "We don't want this dictatorship", he told AFP.

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Even before the incident in which Gahona was shot dead on Saturday, journalists have reportedly faced attacks, been temporarily detained and had their equipment stolen since the start of the protests.

They said there could be no dialogue unless the government "immediately ceases police repression".

Four independent television outlets were taken off air on Thursday, although only one now remains closed. By Sunday, only one remained barred.

The United States denounced the "excessive force used by police and others" in Nicaragua.

Francis called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement the violence "is unacceptable, differences can only be resolved through inclusive dialogue".

He said he's expressing "closeness in prayer to that beloved country" and joining local bishops in seeking an end to "every violence, that useless bloodshed is avoided and that open issues are resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility".

Analysts and business leaders say the protests go beyond dissatisfaction over pension reform.

"There is a malaise of the population not only over the reforms, but for the way in which the country has been run", he added.


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