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Man arrested during Nicaragua's massive protests killed in prison

A Nicaraguan-American, who was arrested during anti-government protests, was killed at La Modelo Prison after "a serious disturbance," authorities claim.
Eddy Antonio Montes Praslin, left, stands with others who were detained and imprisoned during uprisings against the Nicaraguan government in 2018. Montes Praslin was killed on May 16, 2019, by a bullet in a prison north of the capital amid disturbances that left six prison officials injured, Nicaragua's interior ministry said.Nicaraguan National Police via AP

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — A Nicaraguan-American man arrested for taking part in protests against President Daniel Ortega's government was killed by a bullet Thursday in a prison north of the capital amid disturbances that left six prison officials injured.

Nicaragua's interior ministry said the incident in La Modelo prison began in the early afternoon when a group of prisoners caused "a serious disturbance to the public order." Eddy Antonio Montes Praslin died after being rushed to a hospital, according to the ministry statement.

Authorities said Montes Praslin, 57, and other inmates jumped prison staff and tried to take a weapon away from a guard.

But relatives of the prisoners said several patrols of riot troops entered the prison and gunshots were heard. Soon after ambulances arrived, they said. Mothers of inmates gathered at the door to the prison demanding to know what happened and if their children are safe.

"The U.S. Government condemns the use of lethal force against American Citizen Eddy Montes, a political prisoner detained in La Modelo Prison," said a tweet from the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. "The circumstances of this tragic incident should be fully investigated."

Officials said the incident took place during a visit from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Alberto Cabezas of the humanitarian agency's regional official confirmed that Red Cross personnel were inside the prison but he declined to comment further.

Yonarqui Martínez, a lawyer for several detained protesters, told local television the disturbance took place in a section of the prison that holds hundreds of inmates the opposition calls political prisoners.

"We demand they respect the integrity of the inmates and tell us in what condition they are," said Martínez.

Montes Praslin was arrested last November, accused of terrorism, aggravated robbery, illegal possession of weapons and disruption of public order.

A Nicaragua opposition group Civic Alliance said on Twitter: "Repression by the government has caused the death of Eddy Montes Praslin this afternoon in attacks on political prisoners within the system."

Protests against Ortega began in April 2018. Ortega accused his opponents of attempting a coup, and security forces and armed civilian militias launched a crackdown in which at least 325 people were killed, more than 2,000 wounded and over 52,000 fled to exile, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.