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Ecuador Troops Rescue President from Hospital

  • Ralph Kurtenbach

Rebellious police personnel shout slogans at the Regimiento Quito barracks, in Quito, September 30, 2010.

Rebellious police personnel shout slogans at the Regimiento Quito barracks, in Quito, September 30, 2010.

Soldiers escorted President Rafael Correa out of the hospital following a shootout with the rebellious police

Ecuadorean troops stormed a hospital in the capital, Quito, late Thursday and rescued President Rafael Correa, who had been holed up surrounded by renegade police protesting government austerity measures. The soldiers escorted Mr. Correa out of the hospital following a shootout with the rebellious police.

The gun battle between loyalist troops and rebel police lasted about 35 minutes. At least one security force member was reported wounded in the rescue operation.

Later, the embattled president addressed a large crowd of supporters from the balcony of the presidential palace. He thanked them for their support and said he believed the uprising was an attempted coup d'etat.

Mr. Correa had been hospitalized earlier in the day after being shoved and attacked with teargas as he tried to talk with protesting police outside their barracks in Quito.

The protesters are upset over budget cuts that would eliminate some bonuses and promotions. Mr. Correa is defending the budget cuts as necessary and says the entire government is affected.

On Thursday, highways were blocked by police burning tires, and the international airports in Quito and Guayaquil were temporarily shut down by strikers. Ecuadorean schools were dismissed at noon Thursday and classes canceled for Friday.

Mr. Correa took power in 2007. He is an ally of Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez and has been critical of U.S. policy in Latin America.

Ecuador has had a history of political instability.

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