QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador was under a state of siege Friday, with the military in charge of public order, after soldiers rescued President Rafael Correa from a hospital where he'd been surrounded by police who also roughed him up and tear-gassed him.
Correa and his ministers called Thursday's revolt — in which insurgents also paralyzed the nation with airport shutdowns and highway blockades — an attempt to overthrow him and not just a simple insurrection over a new law that would cut benefits for public servants.
At least three people — two police officers and a soldier — were killed and dozens injured, said Irina Cabezas. the vice president of congress. Dozens were injured.
At least five soldiers were wounded — two critically — in the firefight at the hospital before Correa was removed at top speed in an SUV, according to the military and Red Cross.
Correa, 47, speaking from the balcony of the Carondelet palace after his rescue, told hundreds of cheering backers that Thursday "was the saddest day of my life." He said 27 of his special forces bodyguards had been injured.
Correa thanked the supporters who converged on the hospital Thursday "ready to die to defend democracy" — his loyalists had hurled stones at police who repelled them with tear gas.
He said the uprising was not just a pay dispute.