The Archdiocese of Managua called the attack committed “by persons close to the government and paramilitaries” was “condemnable and repudiable.”
The bishops were visiting Diriamba after what the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights reported as deadliest day in the country since the country's unrest began more than two months ago.
The rights group said that 38 people were killed during clashes July 8. Of these, 31 were anti-government protesters, four were police officers, and three were members of pro-government groups. Most of those killed were in Diriamba and nearby Jinotepe.
The Nicaraguan bishops' conference said the delegation of bishops was “fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ, to be at the side of the suffering people, a pastoral visit to the priests and faithful of the Carazo department, the victims of police, paramilitaries and crowds producing death and dolour.”
Cardinal Brenes said he had “felt the brutal force” exercised against his priests. “We have gone to the parishes to console our priests, to accompany them in their suffering, and we have received aggressions.”
Barricades and roadblocks are now found throughout the country, and clashes frequently turn lethal. Bishops and priests across Nicaragua have worked to separate protesters and security forces, and have been threatened and shot.
The violence in Diriamba and Jinotepe was focused on police and paramilitaries trying to clear barricades set up and manned by protesters.
Bishop Rolando José Alvarez Lagos of Matagalpa said the government efforts to clear roadblocks were made “at the price of blood and death,” and that the government has become blinded by “arrogance and pride”.
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Shortly after the bishops were assaulted in Diriamba, paramilitaries and government sympathizers were profaning and sacking St James the Apostle parish in Jinotepe.
The parish showed on Facebook that it had been desecrated by “persons, paramilitaries accompanied by police forces” who were “destroying pews, tables, and medications”.
The medications had been used in part to provide medical care for those wounded in the July 8 riots in Diriamba.
The profaners threw garbage at the parish's priests, and threatened to burn the church.
The Nicaraguan bishops' conference has called off the working groups meant to mediate in the country's crisis, and protesters are planning a strike July 12.
Nicaragua's crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.