QUITO: Eighteen police officers are “missing” following an attack by Indigenous protesters on a police station in Ecuador’s eastern Amazon region, the interior minister said on Wednesday.
Another six officers were “seriously injured” and three more detained by the protesters, said Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo. A protester also died in the attack in the Amazonian city of Puyo, a five-hour drive south of Quito, the government said on Tuesday night, bringing the death toll in 10 days of Indigenous-led anti-government protests to two.
“The mob began setting fires with police still inside patrol cars, began looting, burning public-private facilities such as the Guayaquil Bank, Red Cross, until they ended up torching the police facilities in the center of the city,” said Carrillo.
On Wednesday, the government refused a key demand by Indigenous protesters to lift the state of emergency in six of Ecuador’s 24 provinces. Some 10,000 Indigenous people have mobilised in the capital over the last 10 days to demand a reduction in fuel prices.
But there have been violent clashes between protesters and security forces, leaving 90 civilians and 100 police officers injured, with authorities arresting more than 80 people. On Monday one protester died after falling into a ravine outside of Quito.
Police described the incident as an accident, but the public prosecutor’s office has opened a murder investigation.
The protester who died on Tuesday in the attack on the police station was killed “handling an explosive device,” police said. A lawyer for the Alliance of Human Rights Organisations said he was “hit in the face, apparently with a tear gas bomb.” Quito was relatively calm on Wednesday morning.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022