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Calm returns to Ecuador on Friday after police unrest

10-02-2010 08:18 BJT

QUITO, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Order had apparently returned to Ecuador Friday morning after President Rafael Correa returned safely late Thursday to the presidential palace from a police hospital where he was stranded.

Police commander General Freddy Martinez had resigned in the wake of police unrest that Correa denounced as a coup attempt, local media reported early Friday, citing a police spokesman.

Security forces on Thursday began protesting against a law passed earlier by the National Assembly that cut benefits for the officers. Policemen and some troops occupied one of the main police quarters in Quito and shut down the airport, and the unrest quickly spread to some other cities.

Correa had said he was "practically captive" after being surrounded and stranded for more than 10 hours in a police hospital where he sought treatment after being exposed to tear gas by rioting police officers.

About 800 police officers in Quito reportedly joined the protest.

However, the army remained loyal to the president, General Ernesto Gonzalesz, the armed forces commander, declared at a press conference. The government declared a state of emergency, putting the military in charge of public order and suspending civil liberties.

Correa returned safely to the presidential palace late Thursday and made a televised speech, saying he had been held at the hospital against his will and that the rebel police had planned to kill him.

Those officers had been "manipulated" by parties that wanted to overthrow him, Correa said.

The protesting police denied Correa's claims that he had been held at the hospital by force, saying they were only protesting against the law.

The Security Ministry said at least one person was killed and more than 10 injured in the clashes between the protesting police and the supporters of the president.

The state of emergency was still in effect on Friday morning, but order returned to the streets of Quito. Some people were seen taking a walk in a park, although there were less people and cars on the streets than on a normal weekday.

Correa had the support of Latin American leaders in the wake of the riot. Regional leaders convened an emergency meeting in Buenos Aires, condemning Thursday's unrest and welcoming the peaceful ending of the unrest.



U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday also voiced full support for Correa, calling for a peaceful restoration of order in the country.

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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