Ecuador teetered on the verge of a government collapse Thursday, as national police took to the streets of Quito, the capital, and physically 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. The military said it will support the president and the nation's democratic institutions.
"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.