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Three killed, 50 injured in 'attempted coup' in Ecuador
October 1, 2010 01:16
Foreign Ministry advises Israelis living or traveling in the Quito area to stay indoors; avoid rallies, crowded areas.
Police stage mass demonstration in Quito, Ecuador

Police demo Ecuador. (photo credit:Associated Press)

The Foreign Ministry issued a warning Thursday to Israelis traveling in Ecuador recommending that they remain indoors due to what loyalists of President Rafael Correa are calling an attempted coup

There has been no travel warning formally issued, but the ministry advises against it for now, and said that it is continuing to monitor the situation.

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The ministry is still unaware of the present status of Israelis currently in the South American country, but is working to establish contact with citizens affected by the riots.

Hundreds of police angry over a law to cut their benefits plunged Ecuador into chaos Thursday, roughing up and tear-gassing the president, shutting down airports and blocking highways in a nationwide strike.

Incensed officers shoved the president around, pelted him with water and doused him in tear gas when he tried to speak at a police barracks in the capital. Hours later, surrounded by rebel cops in a hospital, Correa declared himself "practically captive."

Correa, 47, was hospitalized after being nearly asphyxiated by the tear gas.

The government declared a state of siege, putting the military in charge of public order, suspending civil liberties and allowing soldiers to carry out searches without a warrant.

The insurgent police took over police barracks in Quito, Guayaquil and other cities. Some set up roadblocks of burning tires, cutting off highway access to the capital.

Some 800 police officers in Quito joined the protest, which appeared to have arisen spontaneously. The number of participants outside the capital was unclear. Ecuador has 40,000 police officers.

The striking police were angered by a law passed by Congress on Wednesday that would end the practice of giving members of Ecuador's military and police medals and bonuses with each promotion. It would also extend from five to seven years the usual period required for a subsequent promotion.

Air force troops shut down Quito's Mariscal Sucre airport as the protests began Thursday morning. Dozens of flights were canceled and it was unclear when international service would be restored to the Quito, Guayaquil and Manta airports.
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