AP NEWS

Nicaragua hunger strikers evacuated from church, end protest

November 23, 2019 GMT
Altar boys and parishioners barricade one of the entrances of the San Juan Bautista Church after supporters of President Daniel Ortega attempted to enter the church by force, in Masaya, Nicaragua, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. The pro-Ortega group disrupted a mass in support of a group of mothers who are engaged in a hunger strike at the San Miguel Church in Masaya, to demand the release of their sons and daughters who are imprisoned by the Ortega government. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga)
Altar boys and parishioners barricade one of the entrances of the San Juan Bautista Church after supporters of President Daniel Ortega attempted to enter the church by force, in Masaya, Nicaragua, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. The pro-Ortega group disrupted a mass in support of a group of mothers who are engaged in a hunger strike at the San Miguel Church in Masaya, to demand the release of their sons and daughters who are imprisoned by the Ortega government. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Relatives of a dozen people protesting inside a Nicaragua church say they and the parish priest have been evacuated after nine days surrounded by police.

The demonstrators have been on a hunger strike to demand the release of loved ones they say are political prisoners for taking part in protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government.

José Merlo is the father of jailed protester Scarnieth Merlo. He said his wife, Diana Lacayo, and the others were taken Friday to a hospital in Managua.

He added that the hunger strike ended with the evacuation, without their loved ones having been freed.

Nicaragua has been at a political stalemate for over a year and a half after protests erupted demanding Ortega leave office. Government officials accuse opponents of “terrorism” and attempted coup d’etat.