At least 68 prisoners have been killed in a terrorist attack on prisons in Ecuador, although the government has declared a state of emergency following previous riots and the deployment of armed police in prisons to maintain order.
The latest killings took place in the same prison – in Guayaquil – where 119 prisoners died in September in a series of violent clashes between rival gangs. This was the worst massacre in the country’s history.
Another 79 prisoners died in the same conflict in February and 22 in July.
Officials say the series of killings sparked a war between terrorist groups in an effort to curb drug trafficking. Ecuador is located between Colombia and Peru, two of the world’s largest cocaine producers, and Guayaquil is a recognized drug trafficker.
The government says the dispute stemmed from the assassination of a terrorist leader in December last year.
Recent fighting broke out Friday night as inmates tried to move from one prison to another, using explosives and explosives.
One photo from outside the prison on Saturday shows police raiding a prison wall covered with blood on the roof, as the body of a prisoner wearing an orange jumpsuit falls.
A few days after the September riots, police raided the Guayaquil prison and returned it. President Guillermo Lasso has declared a state of emergency for six weeks nationwide to end crime.
The killings will probably force him to do more to address the problems in the country’s prisons, which are overcrowded and where sanitation is often poor.
In a tweet on Saturday, Lasso said the government needed “appropriate legal tools to protect the public, restore order in prisons and deal with the mafia that benefits the riots”.
The Attorney General’s Office issued a statement urging “various government agencies to act immediately” to address the problem. It also noted that 40 percent of prisoners in Ecuadorean prisons have not been convicted and urged judges to consider alternatives to reduction.
Lasso, a former millionaire banker who took office in May, is already on the back foot mentioned in the Pandora Papers on its maritime economics. He is being investigated by an attorney general and Congress, who may try to sue him.