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By LUIS MANUEL GALEANO and CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN, Managua, Nicaragua (AP) -- Nicaraguan national police and armed pro- government civilians laid siege Tuesday to a symbolically important neighborhood that has recently become a center of resistance to President Daniel Ortega's government.
Government forces began advancing on Masaya's Monimbo neighborhood before dawn and within several hours had surrounded the area and pushed closer to single-story homes and artisan workshops about 16 miles southeast of the capital.
The same neighborhood's residents rose up against strongman Anastasio Somoza in the late 1970s as part of the Nicaraguan Revolution led in part by Ortega himself. But since protests against cuts to the social security system in mid-April became a broader call for Ortega to leave office, Monimbo has again become a center of the opposition.
Ortega's government has dismissed opponents as delinquents attempting a coup d'etat and wants to quell unrest in Masaya before Thursday's three-month anniversary of the start of protests across Nicaragua. Thursday is also the 39th anniversary of Liberation Day, which marks the overthrow of the Somoza regime