Nicaraguan journalist shot dead on Facebook Live while covering protests

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A journalist was gunned down during a Facebook Live broadcast as he covered an anti-government protest in Nicaragua.

Angel Gahona was describing damage to a cash machine at a bank in the town of Bluefields on the country’s southern Caribbean coast, when a shot rang out and he fell to the ground, bleeding from the head. 

After tumbling down the steps in front of the bank, he lay on the curb as people screamed his name and rushed to help. Someone pressed a piece of cloth to his head to try to stem the flow of blood.

Another reporter in the area, Ileana Lacayo, said Mr Gahona, who worked for the Meridiano news show, died before reaching the hospital. 

It was unclear who fired the shot. 

He is one of at least 25 people to be killed in unrest over social security reforms planned by the country’s government, according to Nicaraguan human rights group, Cenidh. Dozens more have been injured or arrested.

The country’s president, Daniel Ortega, said his government is willing to enter into talks over the dispute.

Addressing the nation, he said he is open to negotiations so there is “no more terror for Nicaraguan families.” 

However, he said the dialogue would only be with business leaders and not other sectors of society. 

He appeared to justify what has been a heavy-handed response by the government and allied groups, as he went on to accuse demonstrators, mostly university students, of being manipulated by unspecified “minority” political interests. He also claimed they had been infiltrated by gangsters. 

“What is happening in our country has no name,” Mr Ortega said. “The kids do not even know the party that is manipulating them… Gang members are being brought into the kids’ protests and are criminalising the protests. That is why they are put at risk.”

His remarks appeared to fan the flames after tensions had calmed somewhat, as shortly afterwards thousands of people spilled back onto the streets in seven cities including the capital, Managua. 

The country’s vice president, first lady and spokeswoman for the government, Rosario Murillo, said nine people had been confirmed dead in the clashes. 

However, Cenidh said it had counted at least 25 deaths nationwide. 

Additional reporting by agencies