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Ecuador Army Frees President Correa from Hospital Siege: Pres. Safe at Presidential Palace

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10/01/2010 03:43 AM
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Ecuador Army Frees President Correa from Hospital Siege: Pres. Safe at Presidential Palace
Ecuador army frees President Correa from hospital siege

Oct. 1, 2010 2;19 a.m. EST

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has been rescued from a hospital in the capital, Quito, where he had been trapped for several hours in an uprising by disaffected police.

Widespread gunfire was heard as the army moved in to free the president, who was there for treatment after being attacked by police with tear gas.

Mr Correa went on to address supporters outside the presidential palace.

Two people died and dozens were injured in the unrest, officials said.

The president and his supporters said the police revolt over a new law cutting benefits for public servants amounted to an an attempted coup.

Mr Correa, a 47-year-old US-trained economist, took power in 2007 and was re-elected to a second term in 2009, despite a decision to default on $3.2bn of global bonds causing widespread fiscal problems for the government.

'Kill the president'

Mr Correa had been holed up in the police hospital, where he was treated after being hit by tear gas in a confrontation.

Hundreds of police, angry over a law that would cut their benefits, appeared to have prevented him from leaving the clinic.

The sight of two key state institutions, the national police force and the military, exchanging gunfire will be one which worries many ordinary Ecuadoreans, and reminds them of the past.

Ecuador's history is peppered with violent street uprisings which often ended with the removal of the head of state. In this instance, there was to be no such outcome, but it was a sign of how polarised life in Ecuador has become in recent years, with Mr Correa dividing opinion across the country.

The initial reason for the protests -austerity measures - was almost lost among the high drama of the presidential siege. But that, and other issues such as an impending decision on whether to dissolve parliament and call an early general election, are facing Mr Correa when he recovers from what was, without doubt, his toughest day since taking office.

Ecuador protests: Your photos
Under cover of darkness Mr Correa was reportedly smuggled out of the hospital in a wheelchair as a gunbattle between troops and police raged.

Speaking to his supporters outside the presidential palace, Mr Correa said he hoped the events of the day would serve "as an example to those who want to bring a change and stop the citizens' revolution without going through the polls".

The commander of Ecuador's police force has resigned, a police spokesman said on Friday.

The drama began on Thursday morning when members of the armed forces and police angry at the austerity measures occupied several barracks and set up road blocks across the country.

TV stations showed images of police setting tyres on fire in the streets of Quito, Guayaquil and other cities. The National Assembly building was also occupied.

Police also took control of Quito's international airport for several hours.

Looting was reported in the capital and Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil. Banks were robbed and schools and businesses closed.

Peru and Colombia closed their borders with Ecuador in solidarity.

more at link...

[link to www.bbc.co.uk]

Good video of gun battle and removal of president from hospital by special army troops at link.

I couldn't embed the video here.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 919411
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10/01/2010 03:47 AM
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Re: Ecuador Army Frees President Correa from Hospital Siege: Pres. Safe at Presidential Palace
Ecuador President Rafael Correa Freed After Hospital 'Siege' Amid Police Uprising Over Budget Cuts