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Students leaders CJ (L) and Halcon stand guard at the National University of Nicaragua (UNAN), after Government forces attack in Managua, Nicaragua, 23 June 2018. EPA-EFE/FILE/RODRIGO SURA

Crisis in Nicaragua: Police deny using U.S. vehicles to crackdown on protesters

Since Apr. 18, Nicaragua has been steeped in its worst socio-political crisis since 1980.

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The Nicaragua police on Wednesday denied using vehicles donated by the United States - who asked for them to be returned - to crackdown on protests against the government led by President Daniel Ortega or to ferry irregular forces.

"The National Police categorically denies that the means of transport donated by the U.S. government were used to crackdown on peaceful protests or transport irregular forces," the police said in a statement.

The statement added that the vehicles were used to tend to young people at risk and by the mobile inspection units of the anti-narcotics body.

The U.S. embassy in Managua confirmed Wednesday that it had asked the police to return the vehicles donated by the U.S. or pay for them, considering that they were used to repress the people during the protests which have left at least 285 people dead in the country over the last several months.

Nicaragua Foreign Minister Denis Moncada tweeted that the police had on Tuesday started returning the vehicles donated by the U.S. government.

Since mid-April, 285 people, including 20 minors, have been killed in the recent crisis that broke out in Nicaragua, according to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights. Nicaragua has been steeped in its worst socio-political crisis since 1980, which began with failed social security reforms and turned into a call for the resignation of the president, after eleven consecutive years in power, with accusations of abuse and corruption.

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