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Police put Catholic bishop under house arrest after raiding Nicaraguan parish

(CNN)Nicaraguan police arrested a bishop, seven priests and seminarians Friday after a 16-day standoff. restrained.Tensions between the country's government and the Catholic Church are increasing.

The statement did not give a reason for the arrest, but said it was part of an investigation into "destabilizing and provocative" activities in the country that began on 5 August. Stated. A subsequent police statement added that all were taken to the capital Managua for a "legal investigation".

Hours later, Nicaragua's Vice President Rosario Murillo said in a speech that police were restoring order in Matagalpa and that the arrest of the bishop was "necessary." OAS) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the arrests and called for the "immediate release" of the detainees.

Nicaragua's authoritarian government, led by President Daniel Ortega and Mrs. Murillo, has stepped up its grip on the country since massive anti-government demonstrations in 2018. Seek refuge from attacks by pro-government forces on the country's churches and cathedrals.

The Anglican bishops of the time, in an attempt to find peaceful solutions to political disputes, convened various sectors of society with the government to participate as mediators in national dialogue.

76-year-old Ortegaclaimed his fifth term as president last November. Towards the vote, his government began using broad national security legislation as a justification for imprisoning opposition presidential candidates, opposition leaders, journalists, human rights activists and others before the vote. According to the press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, the country has had "virtually no independent media" since that year.

More than 190 non-governmental organizations were closed as of mid-June under another law that considers internationally funded organizations to be 'foreign agents'.

Police launched an investigation into the parish after Alvarez opposed the closure of a Catholic radio station in the area. During his sermon and on his social media accounts, he urged prayer and dialogue in the country and said he did not know why he was being investigated. He is currently under house arrest in Managua, while other religious officials have been taken to the city's Legal Aid Department.

Police also said Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, was allowed to visit Alvarez and "they spoke extensively."

The Archdiocese of Managua did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

The Holy See has previously expressed concern about the situation in the country of Central America.Msgr. Cruz Serrano appealed to the country's political parties to "find ways to seek and understand, above all, the common good and peace, based on respect and mutual trust."