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The protests were triggered Wednesday by a sweeping pension reform package that increases contributions for workers and employer, but lowers overall benefits.

The government argues welfare changes are needed to bolster Nicaragua's finances, and Ortega said talks would be held to draft a new plan to strengthen the social security system.

The Pope, the USA government and business leaders all urged Ortega to stop the violence before he appeared on television and said the measures approved last week would be withdrawn.

This Saturday, the government's response came hours after the Nicaraguan business leadership rejected the dialogue offered by the president and demanded a cessation of repression and respect for the right of demonstrations of Nicaraguans.

More than 20 people have been killed in a clashes between Nicaraguan police and demonstrators in a wave of protests over pension reform, a local human rights body said today.

The current situation in Managua - a ghost town - reminded the elderly capitalists of what they experienced four decades ago, when they fought to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship, which oppressed Nicaragua for nearly five decades.

The center's director, Vilma Nunez, warned that there was "a lot of misinformation" going around that made obtaining the figure hard.

A journalist in Nicaragua has been shot dead while doing a live broadcast about anti-government protests. Some local media reports said a police sniper was suspected to be responsible.

Soldiers armed with rifles stood guard at public offices in Managua, as well as in the northern city of Esteli.

Nicabus, an worldwide bus line with links to Costa Rica and Honduras, said it had suspended services due to the violence. "Anti-riot police had been using rubber bullets, but not anymore - they are using live rounds", he said.

The protests were the biggest challenge faced by Ortega during his 11 years in power.

Four independent television outlets were taken off air on Thursday.

A US State Department statement urged Ortega's government to allow journalists to work freely and to engage in "a broad-based dialogue" to calm the chaos. By Sunday, only one remained barred.

The overhaul was meant to shore up Nicaragua's troubled social security system by both reducing benefits and increasing taxes.

He said he's expressing "closeness in prayer to that beloved country" and joining local bishops in seeking an end to "every violence, that useless bloodshed is avoided and that open issues are resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility".

According to Latino, since then, the focus of #SOSNicaragua has shifted away from the social security reforms to demand an end to violence.