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Americans brutally attacked in Ecuador, officials say

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. officials say man was stabbed repeatedly, his fiancée raped and beaten
  • Relative tells media that couple was attacked on beach in northern Ecuador
  • Fiancée writes in blog that her companion may not survive despite three surgeries
  • State Department site advises caution when traveling to parts of northern Ecuador
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From Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An extended trip to Ecuador by two Americans changed from a dream to a nightmare after a brutal attack last week, according the couple's blog and U.S. officials.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador had been told that two Americans from Bend, Oregon, were attacked in the city of Esmeraldas, on Ecuador's northern coast. But he said he could provide no further information because of privacy laws.

Two State Department officials, however, said that the man was stabbed more than 24 times and that his fiancée was beaten and raped.

CNN does not name the victims of sexual assault and has removed publication of the man's name to help protect the identity of the woman.

The couple was evacuated to the United States on Tuesday for treatment, the officials said.

The couple wrote a blog throughout their trip. In the most recent post on Monday, the woman wrote that her fiance was in intensive care after three surgeries.

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"I was informed by the head surgeon there is no certainty he will survive," she wrote.

The earlier postings were happier reflections on their visit to Ecuador, a year-long trip they planned after getting engaged and selling all their belongings.

In the blog, the couple seems unconcerned about safety, posting that they occasionally hitchhiked, visited the homes of strangers and posed for pictures with new friends they made on their travels.

One senior official told CNN that the victims' parents complained to U.S. consular officers in Ecuador that the Embassy did not do enough to warn Americans that many people have been attacked in Esmeraldas.

The State Department's Web site advises caution when traveling to the northern border region of Ecuador, including Esmeraldas.

The travel advisory section notes that "U.S. government personnel are under limitations with respect to traveling alone and over-nighting in these areas due to the spread of organized crime, drug trafficking, small arms trafficking, and incursions by various Colombian terrorist organizations."

The Web site says that since 1998, at least 10 U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and one killed near Ecuador's border with Colombia.

Wood on Tuesday expressed the State Department's "deep sympathy" for the victims and said the department worked with the victims' families to provide assistance.

"It's a horrible and shocking incident" he said.

All About EcuadorU.S. Department of State

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