Amnesty International has accused the Nicaraguan government of colluding with paramilitary groups to suppress weeks of student-led demonstrations against President Daniel Ortega. It said the groups used semi-automatic weapons and co-ordinated their attacks with the security forces. Around 80 people have died so far in the protests which began in April, triggered by welfare reforms. President Ortega later revoked his plans but the demonstrations turned into broader unrest against his government.
Amnesty International (AI) said the armed groups were often made up of pro-government students and motorcyclists.
"These groups appear to be acting with the acquiescence of the state, as is demonstrated firstly by the fact that most of the attacks were committed by private individuals in the presence of or in co-ordination with the security forces," the report said. "Secondly, by the fact that the police did not pursue the perpetrators after the crimes were committed, but rather allowed them to flee the scene and disperse."
The possibility of extrajudicial killings had already been highlighted in another damning report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR.) Earlier this month, the IACHR visited Nicaragua and said it had seen grave violations of human rights during the protests - characterised, it said, by the excessive use of force by state security forces and armed third parties.