Ecuador petrol protest leader arrested

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Ecuador's police have detained the leader of the country's largest indigenous organisation after he led blockades on highways and other allegedly violent acts in protest against the government's economic policies.

Leonidas Iza's lawyer called the detention illegal and said it was unclear what crime he was accused of.

Indigenous groups began on Monday what they said would be an ongoing protest to demand President Guillermo Lasso freeze the price of petrol, declare a moratorium on small farmers' bank debts and limit oil and mining expansion in the country.

On Monday night, protesters burned a patrol car and attacked police officers, extinguished a pressure pump in an oil field and damaged infrastructure in some flower farms, the government said.

"He was intercepted and detained in a violent way, incommunicado for five hours, we didn't know where he was and we still don't know what crime he is accused of," Iza's lawyer Lenin Sarzosa told journalists in Quito on Tuesday.

Iza's organisation CONAIE tweeted a video of his detention, describing it as "violent, illegal and arbitrary".

Four people who allegedly took part in crimes and one person who was an intellectual author were awaiting a hearing, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo wrote on Twitter.

"Protest is a right that we defend as the government, but not chaos and much less violence," the minister said.

Indigenous people blocked roads around Quito with mud, trees and burning tyres on Monday and closures were also reported in the Amazon, where much oil and mining infrastructure is located.

Several roads remained closed on Tuesday, as other indigenous leaders called for more protest until Iza was freed.

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