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Unrest grips Ecuador, threatening President Rafael Correa

September 30, 2010 |  4:39 pm


In a violent day of chaos, Ecuadoran security forces protesting cuts in their benefits took to the streets and are threatening the government of President Rafael Correa.

The government declared a state of emergency after Correa was confronted by angry police officers.  He  shouted defiantly from a window to demonstrators: "If you want to kill the president, here he is! Kill him, if you want to! Kill him if you are brave enough!" When Correa attempted to leave the site, tear gas was fired and the president was seen in televised video struggling through a large outdoor scuffle.

On Twitter, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said, "They are trying to topple President Correa. Be on alert people of the Bolivarian Alliance!" Readers can follow live Twitter updates on the unrest at #Ecuador.

Members of the armed forces took over and shut down the airport in Quito, the capital, and clashes were reported in several cities between security forces and civilian Correa supporters. Several news organizations are also reporting that their reporters have been attacked and their equipment damaged.

Ecuador's government has launched an emergency news site tracking the unrest and response in the international community. As of this afternoon, Correa is reportedly in a police hospital, but it is unclear whether he is holed up there or being held against his will. The Los Angeles Times will have more updates soon.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa is carried away after being overcome by tear gas. Credit: AFP/Getty Images