All Mormon missionaries transferring out of Nicaragua

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church is moving its remaining 158 missionaries from Nicaragua due to continued violence, according to a church spokesman.

"Those missionaries are being moved to temporary assignments in North America, South America, the Caribbean and New Zealand," said Daniel Woodruff, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Most of these missionaries have already left the country. All others awaiting travel are in a safe location and will arrive in their new assignments in the next several days."

On May 22, the church announced it was transferring 169 of its 327 missionaries out of Nicaragua due to political unrest. Of those, 57 were close to the end of their missions and went home, while the other 112 transferred to North and South America and the Caribbean.

Protests began in mid-April against changes to the social security system that included increased costs for employers and employees. Violent protests resumed last week with clashes between police forces and armed protesters. Pope Francis called for an end to the violence in his Sunday address from St. Peter's Square Sunday, according to Telesur TV.

More than 100 people have died, including a U.S. citizen killed on Saturday, during political protests that a Boston Globe columnist described as civic insurrection. He characterized the country as being on the brink of calamity, while the Washington Post editorial board said it was close to national catastrophe.

Woodruff said the president of the LDS Church's Nicaragua Managua South Mission, Mark Brown, has left the country and returned home with his young family.

The Nicaragua Managua North Mission president, Guatemala native Sergio Armando Poncio Alvarez, and his wife, Jessica, will remain and maintain ecclesiastical responsibilities in Nicaragua.

The LDS Church has about 100,000 members in Nicaragua in 111 congregations.

"The church will continue to monitor developments in Nicaragua and make a decision in the future regarding the eventual return of missionaries," Woodruff said. "In the meantime, we pray for peace and stability for all who live there during this uncertain time."

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