President Rafael Correa addresses protesters in Quito, EcuadorPresident Correa told protesters the government would press ahead with reforms

About 150 members of the security forces in Ecuador have taken over the runway at the airport in the capital, Quito, forcing it to shut down.

It comes as police and troops in the country stage protests over government plans to cut their benefits.

A bridge and main access road into the capital are reported to have been blocked by protesters.

President Rafael Correa has appeared before protesters at a barracks in Quito to appeal for calm.

He told them: “If you want to seize the barracks, if you want to leave citizens undefended, if you want to betray the mission of the police force, go ahead. But this government will do what has to be done.”

The troops and police are protesting against austerity cuts which would reduce their bonuses.

Television stations have shown images of police setting tyres on fire in the streets of Quito, Guayaquil and other cities.

The mayor of Quito, Augusto Barrera, said all flights were suspended from the Mariscal Sucre International Airport.

“Unfortunately a group of people have occupied the runway,” the EFE news agency quoted him as saying.

The unrest came as it emerged that Mr Correa was considering dissolving the national assembly after failing to pass economic reforms.

He would then rule by decree until elections could be held.

The move would have to be approved by the country’s Constitutional Court.

Policy Minister Doris Solis said it was “a scenario that nobody would want but it is a possibility when the conditions for change do not exist”.

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