Ecuador announces a state of emergency in all of its prisons after violent clashes

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador on Tuesday announced a state of emergency in all of its prisons after a series of violent incidents including shootings and explosions occurred in one of its most dangerous prisons.

The measure — the second state of emergency that President Guillermo Lasso has ordered in less than 24 hours — will be in effect for 60 days and orders the immediate mobilization of the military and police in an effort to regain control of the prisons.

On Monday, Lasso signed a decree establishing a similar state of emergency in the provinces of Los Ríos and Manabí after the shooting of the mayor of the city of Manta, Agustín Intriago, an event that shocked Ecuadoreans.

The announcement comes after clashes erupted in Litoral prison on Saturday afternoon and escalated into the early hours of Sunday, with gunshots and explosions heard by people in nearby residential areas. The initial clashes left at least six dead and 11 injured. The disturbances have escalated since then, although authorities have not provided updated information.

Litoral prison is located inside a prison complex in Guayaquil, 270 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of Quito. It has a capacity of about 9,500 inmates, but in the first quarter of this year exceeded that number by almost 3,000.

It is considered one of the most dangerous prisons in Ecuador. A gang battle in 2021 killed 119 inmates. In April, a riot killed 12 inmates and injured three.

Meanwhile, prisoners in 13 other prisons declared a hunger strike on Monday and are holding a hundred prison guards to demand better sanitary conditions and food, among other issues.

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