Protesters parade captured police in Ecuador capital

Anti-government protesters gather in Quito, Ecuador’s capital Credit: Dolores Ochoa/AP

Anti-government protesters paraded captive police officers in Ecuador’s capital in defiance of authorities who are seeking dialogue with opponents after deadly unrest triggered by fuel price hikes.

Some of the officers were later forced to carry a coffin of an indigenous activist said to have been killed during the protests.

The brazen acts occurred in the capital of Quito at a cultural center where indigenous protesters set up a base.

Big jumps in fuel prices after the government ended subsidies last week plunged Ecuador into upheaval, triggering protests, looting, vandalism, clashes with security forces, the blocking of highways and the suspension of parts of its vital oil industry.

Ecuador’s cuts in fuel subsidies were among measures announced as part of a 4.2-billion-dollar funding plan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which says the funds will strengthen the economy and generate jobs.

Indigenous groups condemn the deal with the IMF, saying austerity measures will deepen economic inequality.

An indigenous leader and four other people have died in the violence, according to the public defender’s office. The president’s office said two people have died.