The photos that explain Nicaragua's crisis

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A man wearing a baseball cap, hockey mask, and draped in the national flag raises his home-made mortar in victorious salute in Managua, Nicaragua May 26, 2018.Image source, Reuters
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The Central American nation of Nicaragua has been embroiled in political unrest for more than a month, during which more than 70 people have died.
A demonstrator stands next to a graffiti that reads "Ortega Out" during a protest march against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government in Managua, Nicaragua May 26, 2018Image source, Reuters
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Protests over social welfare cuts have evolved into violent clashes involving thousands of people. Initially, hundreds of protesters - mostly pensioners and students - took to the streets.
Image source, AFP
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But the scale of the response, allegedly involving beatings by pro-government gangs, prompted thousands more to join them. The police response grew in kind, and the marches morphed into widespread anti-government rallies.
Image source, Reuters
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Many police have been injured - but the deaths of dozens of protesters has angered many. One journalist was shot and killed while covering the violence live - by an unknown person - and others say they are being censored. Protesters say President Daniel Ortega is behaving like a dictator.
Image source, AFP
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On the side of the protesters, homemade mortars are a common sight. The smooth tubes are loaded with a projectile and explosive propellant, and fired by lighting a simple fuse.
Image source, AFP
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Meanwhile, the security forces have been using tear gas and rubber bullets but also live ammunition. A report by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights accused the government of a disproportionate use of force and said it could not rule out extrajudicial killings. The report also denounced the torture and arbitrary detention of protesters.
Image source, AFP
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The use of mortars has always been a common feature of political demonstrations in Nicaragua. This woman fired one dramatically at a rally to show her support for President Ortega's FSLN party. During these protests, however, they have also been used as a weapon by both sides, sometimes with deadly consequences.
Image source, Reuters
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President Ortega's supporters have staged counter-demonstrations. Mr Ortega claims criminals and gang members have infiltrated protest rallies, while his wife - and vice-president - has previously said police violence is a "legitimate defence against a tiny group" of troublemakers.
Image source, Reuters
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Young people and students have been a major driving force in the protests. Here, they can be seen blocking off the Pan-American highway in Leon.
Image source, Reuters
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Some student populations have blocked off their entire universities, manning the barricades - like this wall at the entrance to the National Agrarian University.
Image source, Reuters
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In April Pope Francis called for an end to the violence - yet it has grown far worse since. Nuns seen here were taking part in a remembrance ceremony for the victims. Amid all the unrest, the country's dominant Catholic Church has attempted to step in and mediate in the dispute.
Image source, Reuters
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That attempt at mediation failed last week - and the anti-government rallies erupted again last weekend with thousands taking to the streets.