Ecuador’s president,Guillermo Lassohas declared a state of emergency in the prison
system after deadly clashes among gang members in a coastal prison killed at least
116 people and injured 80.
President Guillermo Lasso decreed the state of emergency late on Wednesday. It
gives the government powers that include deploying police and soldiers inside
prisons. Speaking at a news conference, Lasso said he could not guarantee that
authorities had regained control of the prison. He called the bloodshed “bad and
“It is regrettable that the prisons are being turned into territories for power disputes
by criminal gangs,” he said, adding that he would act with “absolute firmness” to
regain control of the Litoral prison and prevent the violence from spreading to other
Images circulating on social media showed dozens of bodies in the prison’s pavilions
nine and 10 and scenes that looked like battlefields. The fighting involved firearms,
knives and bombs, officials said.
Earlier, regional police commander Fausto Buenano had said that bodies were being
found in the prison’s pipelines. Outside the prison morgue, the relatives of inmates
wept, with some describing to reporters the cruelty with which their loved ones were
killed, decapitated and dismembered.
“In the history of the country, there has not been an incident similar or close to this
one,” said Ledy Zuniga, the former president of Ecuador’s National Rehabilitation
Zuniga, who was also the country’s minister of justice in 2016, said she regretted that
steps had not been taken to prevent another massacre following deadly prison riots