Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday put troops on alert after a coup in Honduras and said he would respond militarily if his envoy to the Central American country was kidnapped or killed.

Chavez said Honduran soldiers took away the Cuban ambassador and left the Venezuelan ambassador on the side of a road after beating him during the army's coup against his leftist ally, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

The Honduran army ousted Zelaya and exiled him in Central America's first military coup since the Cold War, after he upset the army by trying to win re-election.

Chavez said on state television if his ambassador to Venezuela was killed, or if troops entered the Venezuelan Embassy, "that military junta would be entering a de facto state of war. We would have to act militarily ... I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert."

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, part of a coalition of leftist governments headed by Chavez that includes Honduras, said he would support military action if Ecuador's diplomats or those of its allies were threatened.

The socialist Chavez has in the past threatened to use his armed forces in the region but never followed through. He said that if a new government is sworn in after the coup it would be defeated.

"We will bring them down, we will bring them down, I tell you," he said, while hundreds of red-shirted supporters gathered outside Venezuela's presidential palace in solidarity with Zelaya.