The photos that explain Nicaragua's crisis

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image captionThe Central American nation of Nicaragua has been embroiled in political unrest for more than a month, during which more than 70 people have died.
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image captionProtests 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.
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image captionBut 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.
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image captionMany 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.
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image captionOn 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.
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image captionMeanwhile, 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.
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image captionThe 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.
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image captionPresident 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.
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image captionYoung 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.
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image captionSome student populations have blocked off their entire universities, manning the barricades - like this wall at the entrance to the National Agrarian University.
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image captionIn 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.
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image captionThat attempt at mediation failed last week - and the anti-government rallies erupted again last weekend with thousands taking to the streets.

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