QUITO, Ecuador – Hundreds of police angry over a law that would cut their benefits plunged this small South American nation into chaos Thursday, roughing up and tear-gassing the president, shutting down airports and blocking highways in a nationwide strike.

At least one person was killed and six injured in clashes between police and supporters of President Rafael Correa, the security minister said.

Incensed officers shoved Correa around earlier, pelted him with water and doused him in tear gas when he tried to speak at a police barracks in the capital.

Hours after Correa was roughed up, surrounded by rebel cops in a police hospital, the president declared himself “practically captive.”

Correa, 47, was hospitalized after being nearly asphyxiated by the tear gas.

The government declared a state of siege, putting the military in charge of public order, suspending civil liberties and allowing soldiers to carry out searches without a warrant.

The insurgent police took over police barracks in Quito, Guayaquil and other cities. Some set up roadblocks of burning tires, cutting off highway access to the capital.

Schools shut down in Quito and many businesses closed early due to the absence of police protection that left citizens and businesses vulnerable.

Looting was reported in the capital — where at least two banks were sacked — and in Guayaquil. That city’s main newspaper, El Universo, reported attacks on supermarkets and robberies due to the absence of police.

Hundreds of Correa supporters gathered outside the National Assembly, which was seized by striking police, while Interior Minister Gustavo Jahlk met with police representatives.

The armed forces commander, Gen. Ernesto Gonzalez, declared the military’s loyalty to Correa at a news conference. He called for “a re-establishment of dialogue, which is the only way Ecuadoreans can resolve our differences.”

But he also called for the law that provoked the unrest to be “reviewed or not placed into effect so public servants, soldiers and police don’t see their rights affected.”

The law, which Congress enacted on Wednesday, must be published before it takes effect, and that has not happened.