At least 20 injuries were reported Tuesday as members of the Amazonian Shuar nation attempted to occupy the headquarters of a Chinese copper mine. The government says that 14 police were injured, including one critically, when they attempted to stop the occupation of the mine.
The mine, operated by EXSA, is located in southeast Ecuador, in a remote area of Morona Santiago Province.
Shuar leaders claim they have ancestral right to the property on which the mine is located and that the Ecuadorian government violated the constitution by not consulting them about the project. The government claims it did, in fact, inform local leaders and followed all applicable laws.
Beyond the report of injuries, the government released little information about the confrontation and did not say if there was damage to facilities or if Shuar protesters remained at the site.
The government said it was investigating to determine whether protesters were armed or in possession of dynamite.
Leaders of the protest say they will continue their efforts to close the mine.