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Ecuadorean Troops Fire Tear Gas to Disperse Strikers


Ecuadorean troops have fired tear gas to clear out striking contract oil workers who massed at an oil installation to press their demands for back wages and better working conditions.

The clash happened Wednesday as authorities sought to regain control of installations run by the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador. The two-day strike at Petroecuador has threatened to paralyze vital crude oil production.

Wednesday's action by the troops took place hours after President Alfredo Palacios declared a state of emergency in three provinces because of the walkout. A government official says Napo, Orellana and Sucumbios provinces were placed under military control to prevent further unrest.

President Palacio's government is expected to release $20 million by Friday to pay the salaries to the nearly 4,000 workers on strike.

Ecuador normally produces about 535,000 barrels of crude oil daily.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.