There has been a dramatic operation to free Ecuador’s President from what he describes as ‘an attempted coup’ by his political opponents.
Soldiers and police stormed a hospital in the capital, Quito. President Rafael Correa had been trapped inside for hours after being forced to take refuge there during a protest by police. The renegade officers are unhappy about cuts to bonuses and benefits as part of austerity measures.
Two soldiers died during the battle to free the President. At least 37 were injured.
Speaking from the presidential Palace after the rescue, Correa said he knew who was to blame for what he’s calling an assassination attempt:
“This is the fault of my opponents. They are trying to twist everything. They’re using conspiracy to achieve what they can’t with the ballot box.”
As many as 88 people were injured on Thursday after the police protest. Demonstrators fired tear gas at the President’s supporters before loyal soldiers moved in to restore order. Unrest also spread to Guayaquil in the south and other cities. Neighbouring Peru and Colombia closed their borders.