Amnesty International on Thursday alleged that the Nicaraguan police and pro-government forces used military-grade lethal weapons to quell mainly unarmed protests. In its report “Instilling Terror: From lethal force to persecution in Nicaragua”, the organisation claimed grave human rights violations were committed between May 30 and September 18.

The report alleged that the President Daniel Ortega administration targeted protestors with “arbitrary arrests, torture, and the widespread and indiscriminate use of lethal force” in its “Operation Clean-up”.

The organisation claimed that at least 322 people have been killed and 2,000 others injured – mostly by the police and pro-government paramilitary groups – since protests against social security reforms began in April. Several foreign reporters have been deported as part of the operation.

The document cites the use of AK-type rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns and portable anti-tank rocket propelled grenade launchers. including the Russian manufactured RPG-7. The organisation states that while some civilian protestors have been using homemade mortars, the use of military-grade arms has been disproportionate and indiscriminate.

“The international investigation must not only direct perpetrators, but also any officials – independent of their rank and political position – who ordered, permitted, or knew about the violations yet did nothing to stop them,” Americas Director at Amnesty International Erika Guevara-Rosas said.