Dozens of prison guards held hostage in Ecuador after deadly riot

About 90 prison guards were held hostage by inmates in Ecuador Monday after clashes between prisoners the previous day claimed six lives at a penitentiary in Guayaquil, authorities said.

“At the moment, about 90 prison security agents are reported to be held” at facilities in five provinces, the SNAI prison authority said via WhatsApp, adding all were “in good shape.”

Inmates at 13 prisons countrywide were on hunger strike, it added.

The developments follow new violence at the Guayas 1 prison in the port city of Guayaquil, which left six inmates dead.

Eleven others were injured in the clashes between rival gangs.

Mass killings featuring stunning levels of violence such as beheadings are common in the overcrowded Ecuadoran prison network.

Authorities say a dozen drug-gang riots have claimed at least 420 lives in prisons since 2021. Some of the victims were burnt alive.

The riots pit gangs with links to drug traffickers against one another in a country that has emerged as a key player in the South American cocaine trade.

Guayaquil, on Ecuador’s southern Pacific coast, is the country’s largest city, biggest port and economic hub but in recent years has become the increasingly bloody center of a gang turf war.

The location of the city, home to three million of Ecuador’s 18 million people, makes it a strategic launch point for shipments of drugs to the United States and Europe.

Tucked between Colombia and Peru, the world’s main cocaine producers, Ecuador has seized 455 tons of drugs since President Guillermo Lasso took office in May 2021.

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