Ecuador president orders curfew, military control in Quito

Demonstrators break into the General Comptrollers Office building during protests over a fuel price hike ordered by the government to secure an IMF loan (AFP Photo/Martin BERNETTI )
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Quito (AFP) - Ecuador President Lenin Moreno on Saturday ordered the capital Quito and surrounding areas to be placed under curfew and military control, on the 11th day of deadly protests against government austerity measures.

The order "will take effect" Saturday from 3 pm (2000 GMT) and "facilitate the work of public forces against intolerable outbreaks of violence," he announced on Twitter.

This was in addition to the state of emergency Moreno had declared on October 3, deploying some 75,000 military and police, in addition to imposing an additional curfew in the vicinity of government buildings.

Violence continued in Quito even as an indigenous movement leading the protests over fuel price hikes reversed course and said it had accepted a proposal for direct talks with President Lenin Moreno.

Protesters in Ecuador's capital ransacked and set fire to a government building.

An AFP photographer saw fire bombs thrown at the building housing the comptroller general's office. Men wearing masks or helmets then overran it.

Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said on Twitter she had ordered the area around the building evacuated so crews could put out the fire.

She added that police had arrested 30 people outside the comptroller's office.

Nearby, protesters erected barricades in front of the National Assembly building as police fired tear gas at them, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

Just hours prior an indigenous umbrella group called CONAIE, which has been leading the protests, said it agreed to hold talks with President Moreno after consulting with its members. On Friday the group had rejected the idea of negotiating.

More than a week of demonstrations in the capital Quito have left five people dead and nearly 2,000 injured or detained.

The protests were triggered when fuel subsidies were eliminated as part of a deal with the IMF for a $4.2 billion loan. Instantly, fuel prices more than doubled.

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