Over 115 Dead in Prison Violence in Ecuador
Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso has declared a state of emergency in the prison system, something which, among other things, allowed the government to send police and soldiers to prison.
The uprising started when a fight broke out between criminal gangs in a prison, which is located in the coastal town of Guayaquil, on Tuesday morning local time.
It was first reported that 30 were killed, but after a day of searching, the authorities report that at least 116 were dead and 80 injured. The government calls it the worst prison massacre in the country’s history.
Lasso was visibly affected when he said at a press conference that what had happened was “horrible and sad”. He could not guarantee that the government has regained control of the prison, writes the news agency AP.
The clashes lasted for more than five hours. Firearms, knives and explosives were used. The gangs “Los Lobos” and “Los Choneros” are to blame.
It is unfortunate that the prison is made the scene of a power struggle between criminal gangs, Lasso said.
Images have been circulating on social media from inside the prison. There are several dozen people dead, and the crime scenes that look like war zones.
The family and friends of the inmates in the prison had gathered outside on Wednesday, while they waited again. Several cried when they told journalists how their near and dear ones had been brutally killed, writes the news agency AP.
According to Lasso, the relatives are offered crisis help, and they receive food and psychological help at gathering places outside the prison.
Ledy Zúñiga, who was previously the Minister of Justice in Ecuador and the chief physician responsible for the rehabilitation of criminals, regretted that no measures had been introduced after similar incidents earlier this year.
In September, suspected gang members attacked a prison in Guayaquil with armed drones, and in July, a total of 21 people were killed in riots in prisons in Cotopaxi and Guayaquil.
In February, 79 people were killed in violent battles between rival gangs in several prisons.
Lasso says that the government will speed up a program that will improve prisons in the country for 24 million dollars, equivalent to just over 200 million kroner. The first item on the list is investments in infrastructure and technology in the Litoral prison.
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