Crime & Justice

Death toll in Ecuador prison riot tops 100

Quito, Sep 29 (EFE).- President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency for the entire Ecuadorian penal system on Wednesday after authorities said that more than 100 inmates died in a pitched battle between rival gangs at a prison in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

In the initial report on Tuesday’s violence, police district commander Fausto Buenaño said that 24 prisoners were killed and 49 others wounded in clashes that appeared to involve the use of firearms and explosives.

And the governor of Guayas province, Pablo Arosemena, said that the situation was under control.

On Wednesday, however, the prison service (SNAI) said on Twitter that more than 100 inmates had been confirmed dead and that police and prosecutors continued to amass information about the riot.

Accounts that circulated on social media mentioned a death toll of around 110.

The Lasso administration said that the aim of the emergency declaration was to safeguard the rights and security of inmates and prison staff.

Ecuador’s armed forces and the national police will work with the SNAI “with the objective of carrying out the actions necessary to re-establish and maintain order,” the government said.

In the event of future major incidents inside prisons, the police and the military “will need to intervene urgently, within the existing constitutional and legal framework,” the emergency declaration said.

Any use of the military inside prisons will be governed by the standards of “necessity, reasonableness and proportionality,” the document said.

Last week, a search of the prison in Guayaquil turned up three guns, more than 350 rounds of ammunition, a grenade, 12 sticks of dynamite and illegal drugs.

Officers also found “improvised explosive devices,” 27 knives, 16 cell phones and a two-way radio, according to the prison service.

On Sept. 13, another prison in Guayas province was the target of a drone attack that caused three explosions and caused damage to the roof. EFE fa/dr

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