Ecuador Declares Emergency As Police Protest, President Is Attacked

Ecuador teetered on the verge of a government collapse Thursday, as national police took to the streets of Quito, the capital, and attacked the president over what police say was the cancellation of bonuses and promotions. The government declared a one-week state of emergency Thursday afternoon and put the military in charge of security. "This is a coup attempt," President Rafael Correa said in a TV interview a couple of hours after police lobbed tear gas at him. Correa, who was forced to flee to a nearby hospital, said police were trying to get at him. "They're trying to get into my room, maybe to attack me. I don't know," he said in a telephone interview with state-run Ecuador TV. "But, forget it. I won't relent. If something happens to me, remember my infinite love for my country, and to my family I say that I will love them anywhere I end up." A video by CNN affiliate Ecuavisa later showed a defiant Correa standing at an upper floor window, shouting to a crowd of supporters, "If they want me, here I am," and then rapidly ripping his necktie loose A broadcast by Ecuador TV showed mobs on the streets and clouds of black smoke coming from burning tires and garbage. Sporadic looting was reported. Correa had taken to the streets to try to negotiate with police but was soon surrounded and jostled by a crowd and forced to flee after someone fired a tear gas canister at him. Some of those shoving him were police officers in full gear. Video from CNN affiliate Teleamazonas shows a man in a tan suit punching Correa and trying to yank a gas mask off the president's face. The broadcast then shows a hunched-over Correa being led away, his face still covered by the gas mask. Correa, who recently underwent knee surgery, leaned on a crutch with his left arm. A news photograph later showed him lying on a stretcher. A government helicopter had tried to evacuate him but was unable to land. He went on the air from a hospital a couple of hours later to denounce what he called a cowa