Death toll climbs to 7 in anti-gov't protests in Ecuador

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-14 10:15:42|Editor: Yurou
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QUITO, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Seven people have been killed in a wave of anti-government protests in Ecuador, especially the capital Quito, over the past two weeks, the ombudsman's office said on Sunday.

The agency, which is monitoring the human rights situation during the demonstrations sparked by steep fuel hikes, issued a report on the number of fatalities, injuries or arrestees.

"Seven deaths have been registered nationwide, with the highest number in the province of Pichincha," whose capital is Quito, according to the report.

Since the protests began on Oct. 3 and up to 9 a.m. Sunday, some 1,340 people have been injured, most in Pichincha, followed by the provinces of Azuay in the south and Guayas in the southwest.

To date, 1,152 people have been arrested, though the vast majority, 878, were released without charges or fines. Some 274 people have been formally accused of breaking the law.

"Only in 24 percent of cases of people arrested by authorities was there a reason or a factor to press criminal charges," the report said.

On Oct. 1, the government of President Lenin Moreno announced the elimination of fuel subsidies as part of an austerity package designed to reduce the public deficit in keeping with the terms of a 4.2-billion-U.S.-dollar loan agreement the government signed with the International Monetary Fund.

Gasoline and diesel prices immediately shot up, and transport fares rose, leading transport workers and others to launch an indefinite nationwide strike and sparking violent protests sometimes.

Moreno declared a state of emergency on Oct. 3 to quell the protests with stepped-up police and military presence, but demonstrations continued to intensify.

He also imposed a curfew in Quito on Saturday, though it was temporarily lifted on Sunday for a few hours.

The unrest has led Moreno to relocate his government to the costal city of Guayaquil.