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At least 116 dead in gang battle at Ecuador jail: What you need to know


Picture courtesy: USA today

A battle between gangs in a prison killed at least 116 people and injured 80 in what authorities are calling the worst penitentiary massacre in Ecuador’s history. At least five deaths were reported beheaded, officials said Wednesday.


President Guillermo Lasso decreed a state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system, allowing the government to deploy the police and soldiers to penitentiaries among other powers. Authorities attributed Tuesday’s bloodshed at the Litoral penitentiary in the coastal city of Guayaquil to gangs linked to international drug cartels fighting for control of the lockup.


Lasso, visibly affected, said at a news conference that what was happening in the Guayaquil prison was “bad and sad” and he could not for the moment guarantee that authorities had regained control of the lockup.


The fight first broke out on Tuesday when inmates from one wing of the prison crawled through a hole to gain access to a different wing, where they attacked rival gang members.

According to Mr Garzón, the Equador prison director, there was continuous shooting inside the prison overnight Tuesday into Wednesday and as police went through the prison wings one by one, they found scores more bodies, bringing the death toll to 116.


Previously, the bloodiest day occurred in February, when 79 prisoners died in simultaneous riots in three prisons in the country. In July, 22 more prisoners lost their lives in the Litoral penitentiary, while in September a penitentiary centre was attacked by drones leaving no fatalities.

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