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Ecuador's president sends soldiers onto the streets as protests worsen

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By Daniel Bellamy  with Reuters
Ecuador's president sends soldiers onto the streets as protests worsen
Copyright  REUTERS/Henry Romero

Ecuadorean indigenous group Conaie said late on Saturday that it would continue anti-austerity protests after President Lenin Moreno imposed a military-enforced curfew in the capital Quito and the armed forces said they would restrict movement across the country.

The group suggested that its decision earlier in the day to hold direct talks with Moreno about a decree that cut fuel subsidies might be at risk by the military crackdown. Conaie has led protests against the law but has rejected vandalism that swept Quito on Saturday.

"There's no real dialogue without guarantees for the safety of indigenous leaders," Conaie said in a statement on Twitter.

"We'll carry out approaches to try to repeal the decree," it added, "but we will hold protest actions nationally ... exhorting the government to provide necessary guarantees."

It did not specify when it would hold protests or if it would do so in defiance of the curfew. Moreno did not say when the curfew in Quito would end.

Ecuador has already been in a state of emergency for two months.

Early on Saturday Quito had entered a tenth day of unrest over President Lenin Moreno's austerity plan, with local markets shuttered and police firing tear gas at protesters gathered at the country's parliamentary building.

The streets of downtown Quito resembled a war zone. Plumes of tear gas clouded streets littered with bricks and small fires, as groups of people huddled behind walls and makeshift barricades for protection.

Human rights groups and protesters have denounced the police crackdown as heavy handed and urged authorities to issue restraint. The police said on Twitter on Saturday that the protests were not peaceful.