Nicaraguan police and paramilitary groups loyal to President Daniel Ortega killed at least 10 people on Sunday, a human rights association said, as the death toll from violent clashes in the country continues to rise.

An anti-government protester takes part in a caravan of car and motorcycles to demand an end to violence in Ticuantepe, Nicaragua July 15, 2018.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

The people were killed when government forces attacked the community of Monimbo and nearby city of Masaya, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) southeast of the capital, Managua, said Alvaro Leiva of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH).

“We are talking about more than 10 deaths at this time,” Leiva told a local television station.

Nearly three months of clashes between pro-Ortega forces and demonstrators calling for his removal have claimed over 300 lives, in the bloodiest protests in Nicaragua since the country’s civil war ended in 1990.

On Saturday, bishops secured the release of dozens of student protesters trapped overnight inside a church under a hail of gunfire from armed pro-government supporters, who killed at least one person inside, a human rights group said.

An anti-government protester takes part in a caravan of car and motorcycles to demand an end to violence in Ticuantepe, Nicaragua July 15, 2018.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Student leader Lester Aleman, who is among the protesters spearheading the demand for Ortega and his wife and vice-president, Rosario Murillo, to step down, told reporters that he wanted a “halt to the repression.”

The Civic Alliance and the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua are calling for Ortega, for a way out of the crisis, to hold elections in March 2019 ahead of his 2022 mandate.

A nationwide strike emptied streets on Friday as businesses shut their doors, heeding calls by civil society groups who want Ortega to resign and stage early elections.

(Reuters)

Article originally appeared on Today Nicaragua and is republished here with permission.