Car bombs and prison uprising shake Ecuador’s Quito

The car bomb attacks targeted the SNAI prisons authority, causing explosions outside its headquarters and at a former SNAI office building

Ecuador’s capital, Quito, experienced a series of violent incidents on Thursday night as car bombs detonated and inmates in multiple prisons seized over 50 prison guards and police officers. 

The car bomb attacks targeted the SNAI prisons authority, causing explosions outside its headquarters and at a former SNAI office building.

These attacks, attributed to organized crime groups, inflicted no casualties. The prison uprising, on the other hand, was reportedly in response to a police operation to confiscate weapons from jails.

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The seized prison guards and police officers were being held hostage in six different penitentiaries across the country. Interior Minister Juan Zapata expressed concern for their safety.

Ecuador, once a peaceful haven situated between major cocaine-producing countries Colombia and Peru, has faced an increase in violence and drug trafficking. Its prisons have seen brutal clashes between rival gangs linked to international cartels, leading to over 430 inmate deaths since 2021.

Juan Carlos Perez/AFP
Juan Carlos Perez/AFPA wounded inmate is transported from a truck to an ambulance after a riot, outside the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Ecuador, on May 9, 2022.

General Pablo Ramirez, the police’s anti-drug investigations head, revealed that one of the rigged cars used in the attacks was loaded with gas cylinders, fuel, a slow fuse, and dynamite sticks. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported.

In addition to the car bomb attacks, Quito experienced three grenade explosions during the night. Law enforcement arrested six individuals, including a Colombian national, near one of the explosion sites. These individuals had previous criminal records involving extortion, robbery, and murder.

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