Crime & Justice

Explosions, kidnappings and prison escapes after state of emergency declaration in Ecuador

Quito, Jan. 9 (EFE) – A series of explosions, kidnappings of police officers and prison escapes were reported in different parts of Ecuador between Monday night and Tuesday morning in response to the declaration of a state of exception and nighttime curfew by the government.

President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency on Monday after a series of riots in at least six prisons in the country, which included the retention of prison guards and the burning of mattresses.

The state of emergency allows the armed forces, in support of the police, to control internal security, especially in prisons, as they have done on previous occasions.

“I have just signed the decree of the state of exception, so that the Armed Forces have all possible political and legal support in their operations,” Noboa declared in a message via Instagram.

The prisoners were demanding that no transfers be carried out and that there be no control raids in the penitentiary centers.

After the announcement, a wave of terror swept the country, but the Secretary of Communication of the Presidency, Roberto Izurieta, said on Tuesday that the government will not give in to such demands.

Explosions all over the country

More than fifteen explosions and burned vehicles were reported by authorities across the country, including a car filling up at a gas station in the coastal city of Esmeraldas, a car carrier truck set on fire in the Andean city of Azogues, and a military truck attacked with explosives near a prison in the southern city of Cuenca.

Iván Saquicela, president of the National Court of Justice, also reported Tuesday the detonation of an explosive device outside his home in the capital.

The Police reported that seven officers had been taken hostage, one in Quito, three in the southern province of El Oro and three in the central province of Los Ríos.

Prisons out of control

In the Andean city of Riobamba, 32 inmates escaped including Fabricio Colón Pico, who was arrested last week for allegedly plotting to kill Attorney General Diana Salazar.

The penitentiary authorities have not commented on the escape.

During the incidents in the prisons on Monday, videos circulated in which people dressed in prison guards’ uniforms read messages from the inmates asking the head of state, Daniel Noboa, to stop control raids in these facilities.

One of the videos shows a person in a police uniform, who identifies himself as sub-officer Alberto Gómez, asking Noboa to stop his actions, with guns pointed at his head.

The prison authorities reported that guards are being held, but have not specified how many, in which prisons, or in what conditions, nor have they confirmed whether those appearing in these videos are in fact prison guards or police officers.

Increased security

The mayor of Quito, Pabel Muñoz, commented that the country and Quito “are going through an unprecedented security crisis,” and that security will be reinforced in critical areas and in public services and requested the government “the militarization of the strategic installations of the city to guarantee their operation.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education ordered the virtualization of activities in some educational institutions, including those closest to prisons. EFE

sm/ics/mcd

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