UK

Ecuador Britons warned to stay indoors amid violence

Red Cross medics escort an army soldier in Quito
Image caption Troops stormed a hospital in Quito late on Thursday and rescued President Correa

Britons in Ecuador have been warned to stay indoors by the Foreign Office after a day of unrest resulted in gun battles between police and soldiers.

During the violence, President Rafael Correa had to be rescued from a hospital where he had been trapped by police rebelling over benefit cuts.

He and his supporters said the violence amounted to an attempted coup.

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) said Britons with immediate travel plans may also have to put them on hold.

Unrest amid anger at a new law cutting benefits for public servants plunged the South American country into chaos on Thursday, shutting down airports and blocking roads in a nationwide strike.

Issuing updated travel advice for Ecuador on Friday, the FCO said: "Numerous demonstrations are taking place in favour and against the government across the country.

"British nationals are advised to remain indoors, either at home or in their current location, if safe to do so."

It added: "Those with immediate travel plans may be forced to put them on hold until the situation improves and are advised to contact their airline."

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne has also urged the all parties to refrain from violence and "respect the democratic, constitutional government of Ecuador... and restore order quickly and peacefully".

After being freed from the hospital in Quito by soldiers, Mr Correa told cheering supporters from the balcony Quito's presidential palace the uprising was more than a simple police protest.

Mr Correa had been held in the police hospital, where he was treated after being hit by tear gas in a confrontation, for over 12 hours.

Ecuador has a history of political instability. Protests toppled three presidents during economic turmoil in the decade before Mr Correa, a 47-year-old US-trained economist, was elected in 2006.

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