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Military Rescues Ecuadorian President From Protesters

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a gas mask, is rescued from a hospital where he was holed up by protesting police in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday Sept. 30, 2010. Dolores Ochoa/AP hide caption

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Dolores Ochoa/AP

The military has clamped down in Ecuador after a day of protests and drama yesterday. Troops rescued President Rafael Correa from a hospital where he had been surrounded by protesting security forces. He was being treated at the hospital after rebellious police roughed him up and tear gassed him.

Correa said the protests yesterday were an attempt to throw him out of office and seize power. Protesters began the demonstrations against a new austerity law that would cut benefits for public servants. The demonstrators seized government buildings, blocked highways, and shut down the airport. At least three people were killed and dozens more wounded.

The Associated Press has these details of the rescue:

Dramatic images of the rescue, broadcast by TV stations, showed one helmeted soldier dressed in black and wearing a flak jacket apparently struck by a bullet. He tumbled down a small embankment outside the hospital. The Red Cross said at least one civilian was also wounded.

At the hospital, Correa had vowed to defend his dignity and leave either "as president or as a corpse." He also negotiated with some of the insurrectionists, but whether any were placated was unclear.

Regional leaders and the United States voiced their support for the Correa regime. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia both blamed the US for the riots.