QUITO – Indigenous groups in Ecuador seized eight police officers Thursday amid protests over fuel price hikes that officials said have so far killed five people, including an indigenous leader.
The uniformed officers, including a woman, were seized during a tense standoff in Quito and put on display before an angry crowd at the capital’s House of Culture, where indigenous groups taking part in the protests are camped.
President Lenin Moreno was expected to resume talks with indigenous leaders after a week of protests against fuel price hikes escalated into deadly clashes and disrupted oil output.
Street battles between the mostly indigenous demonstrators and security forces have marred mass protests against the fuel hikes in Quito over the past two days.
The dead include Inocencio Tucumbi, an indigenous leader from the Andean province of Cotopaxi, the Ombudsman’s office said in a statement.
“We are calling on the national government to eradicate violence and guarantee the exercise of the right to social protest in a peaceful manner,” it said.
The first victim was hit by a vehicle on Sunday in the southern province of Azuay, and the other four all died during clashes in Quito.