QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ A leftist guerrilla group claimed responsibility Wednesday for the deaths of three policemen who were killed when guerrillas helped a comrade escape from a hospital.

The group, Alfaro Vive, assumed ''full responsibility for the three casualties suffered by the national police,'' guerrilla leader Arturo Jarrin said in a statement sent to the news media.

Five men and a woman wearing white smocks broke into the hospital room of Leonardo Vera Viteri on Tuesday and shot to death three policemen posted as guards, said police commander Gen. Luis Suarez.

Vera was being treated for complications from wounds he received during the unsuccessful kidnapping of an Ecuadorean industrialist in December 1985.

The guerrilla statement was accompanied by a photo showing Vera with a revolver in his belt and his left fist thrust into the air.

Jarrin urged police not to allow themselves to be forced into ''paying the cost of a confrontation with the oligarchy.''

Alfaro Vive was founded in 1979, but did not become active until 1984 when Leon Febres Cordero, a conservative industrialist, was elected president.

The group is believed to have only about 200 militants, most of them radicalized middle-class youths.

Alfaro Vive has concentrated on bank robberies and kidnappings for ransom. It has been accused of a handful of killings and has not bombed targets or carried out other actions that would deliberately take lives.

Interior Minister Luis Robles complained Wednesday that Ecuador's human rights groups have criticized the government's anti-insurgency tactics, but not the slayings of police officers by guerrillas.

''Unfortunately, because I have pursued these terrorists, I am accused of being a torturer, and undoubtedly they will censure me and perhaps even give them (the guerrillas) a vote of confidence,'' Robles said.

The minister was referring to an order to appear before Congress to comment on allegations that police have illegally detained guerrilla suspects and tortured them. Robles is in charge of the police.

A coalition of opposition center-left parties won control of the congress June 1.