A demonstrator holds up a Nicaragua flag next to a burning barricade as demonstrators take part in a protest over a controversial reform to the pension plans of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) in Managua, Nicaragua April 21, 2018.
A demonstrator holds up a Nicaragua flag next to a burning barricade as demonstrators take part in a protest over a controversial reform to the pension plans of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) in Managua, Nicaragua April 21, 2018. Reuters

Soldiers have been deployed across Nicaragua after at least 25 people were killed as anti-government protests hit the country.

The Army was deployed early morning on Saturday outside the city hall of Managua to protect the municipal office while soldiers were deployed in Esteli, 149 km north of the capital, to protect government institutions, Efe news reported.

The Nicaraguan Initiative of Human Rights Defenders and the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights reported that 67 students had been injured, 43 were missing and 20 have been arrested, while one TV station was torched and a few communication systems were blocked.

In a statement, the Army said its soldiers have been deployed to protect "strategic targets" and called for dialogue to address the growing unrest over a set of new social security measures.

In his first statement since the crisis erupted, President Daniel Ortega said the government was open to amending the social security reforms and had called for dialogue.

The social security reforms raised the percentage of salaries that employees and employers had to contribute to the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security.

(IANS)