November 21, 2019 / 4:25 PM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. says Nicaragua's surrounding of church sheltering protesters 'unacceptable'

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WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The United States is deeply concerned about protesters on a hunger strike in a church in Nicaragua who have been unable to access water or electricity, and will use economic and diplomatic means to support democracy in the country led by President Daniel Ortega, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said on Thursday.

“The Ortega regime’s siege of a place of worship is unacceptable, as are the arrests of more than a dozen individuals who were attempting to aid the hunger strikers,” Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on the protests in the San Miguel Archangel Church in the city of Masaya.

“The United States stands ready to use all economic and diplomatic means at our disposal to support the Nicaraguan people’s calls for a restoration of democracy,” the statement said.

Both the Organization of American States and the United Nations raised alarms this week about human rights in Central America’s largest country, as protests, including two hunger strikes by mothers of detained activists, have recently ramped up and led to clashes with Ortega’s government.

The Nicaraguan police on Monday accused 16 anti-government protesters of planning to carry out terrorist attacks. (Reporting by Lisa Lambert Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)

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