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Prisons Bureau: Death Toll in Ecuador Prison Clash Tops 100


Army soldiers check an ambulance at the Penitenciaria del Litoral jail after prisoners died and others were injured in a riot in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Sept. 28, 2021.

The death toll in a penitentiary gang battle in the coastal city of Guayaquil has risen to more than 100 as authorities find more bodies, Ecuador's prison service said Wednesday. At least five of the bodies were beheaded.

The country's prisons bureau said in a tweet that “as of the moment more than 100 dead and 52 injured have been confirmed” in Tuesday's clash the Guayas prison.

Earlier, the confirmed death toll stood at 30, but regional police commander Fausto Buenaño said bodies found in the prison's pipelines were still being identified.

Armored vehicles, soldiers, ambulances and relatives of inmates gathered outside the penitentiary, the latter waiting for news of loved ones inside.

Police Commander Fabian Bustos said a police and military operation had regained control of the prison after five hours on Tuesday. He said several weapons had been seized.

The violence involved gunfire, knives and explosions and was caused by a dispute between the Los Lobos and the Los Choneros prison gangs, officials said.

Colonel Mario Pazmiño, the former director of Ecuador's military intelligence, said the bloody fighting showed that “transnational organized crime has permeated the structure" of Ecuador's prison system, adding that Mexico's Sinaloa and the Jalisco New Generation cartels operated through local gangs.

“They want to sow fear,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday after officials confirmed 10 decapitations.

In July, President Guillermo Lasso decreed a state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system following several violent episodes that resulted in more than 100 inmates being killed.

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