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State of emergency expanded in Ecuador after 'disappearance of 18 police officers'

Indigenous men prepare to march in Quito, Ecuador, on June 22, 2022, on the 10th consecutive day of indigenous-led anti-government protests. (Photo by AFP)

A state of emergency has been expanded to more areas in Ecuador following the purported disappearance of 18 police officers after an indigenous protest in the city of Puyo.

Violent demonstrations have been ongoing in Ecuador in protest at rising fuel prices and the economic policies of Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso. Two people have been killed in 10 days of indigenous protests, which have also sparked violent clashes with security forces.

The Ecuadorian president expanded a state of emergency to six provinces, also implementing a nighttime curfew in a bid to curtail the demonstrations.

According to the latest reports, about 90 civilians and 100 members of the security forces have been injured in the clashes. Three police forces have also allegedly been captured by protesters.

The protesting natives have taken control of the city of Puyo.

In recent days, the popular Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) has been calling for minimum prices for agricultural products and for mining and oil projects to be stopped.

In order to appease the protesters, the president has said he would subsidize fertilizer costs by 50% for small and medium farmers, and freeze fuel prices at their current level. Lasso has also said he would order the public bank to forgive overdue loans worth up to $3,000, and give the small farmers more time to pay their debts. But the measures have failed to calm indigenous outrage.

An oil-producing country, Ecuador has been facing a sharp rise in fuel prices in recent years, which has aggravated in the wake of the war in Ukraine. This has increased inflation and unemployment and caused public dissatisfaction. Fuel prices have risen sharply since 2020, almost doubling for diesel and gasoline.

Indigenous people make up more than one million of Ecuador's population of 17.7 million.

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