Conflicts & War

2 killed in suspected arson attack in eastern Ecuador as unrest continues

Quito, Jan 11 (EFE).- Two people died and nine others were injured in a fire at a nightclub in El Coca, in eastern Ecuador, national police said Thursday.

The fire, which occurred on Wednesday night, was “set by unidentified persons” and affected 11 nearby premises, police said.

A police source told EFE that they received the alert at 10:15pm, 45 minutes before the curfew established this week went into effect.

“As a result of this terrorist attack there are 9 people injured and 2 dead,” police said.

Police units were carrying out investigations to find those responsible for the arson attack, the spokesperson said.

The fire occurred with the country reeling from a wave of violence by criminal gangs this week.

The government has declared a state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew to tackle the unrest, which saw some notorious drug lords escape from prison and prison guards being taken hostage.

On Tuesday heavily armed men stormed a television station during a live broadcast in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, to demand that the government stop its attempts to take back control of the prisons.

In a decree, the President of Ecuador, Daniel Noboa, said Ecuador was engaged in an “internal armed conflict” and ordered the armed forces to respond “under international humanitarian law and respecting human rights”.

In signing the decree, Noboa identified transnational organized crime groups “as terrorist organizations and belligerent non-state actors”.

The surge in violence came after Noboa, who was recently elected after campaigning to tackle rising criminality in the country, had announced plans to transfer inmates to other jails in an attempt to dismantle the powerful drug-trafficking gangs that have taken over many of Ecuador’s penitentiaries. EFE


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