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Inmates hold dozens of guards hostage in Ecuador

Dozens of prison guards in Ecuador are being held against their will by inmates in five jails, according to the country’s prison service Snai.

Prisoners took the guards hostage after a deadly fight between gangs in Guayas jail left six dead on the weekend.

Inmates at more than a dozen jails have also gone on hunger strike, Snai said in a statement.

Wars between rival gangs have turned many of Ecuador’s jails into death traps for those inside.

The latest bout of violence broke out at Guayas jail in the port city of Guayaquil on Saturday night. Officials said members of two rival gangs confronted each other, leaving six dead and 11 injured.

The unrest then spread to other jails across the country. The governor of Azuay province, Consuelo Orellana, said 53 prison guards were being held hostage in Turi jail in the city of Cuenca alone.

The prison service said the hostages were “in good shape” and that every effort was being made to free them.

Mr Orellana said the violence had broken out “in reaction” to the deadly riot in Guayas jail.

Many of Ecuador’s prisons are severely overcrowded and the authorities struggle to keep members of rival gangs separate.

Hundreds of inmates have been killed in deadly gang fights in recent years. Attacks on rivals are often coordinated and riots often break out in prisons across different states simultaneously.

In other cases, a deadly fight in one prison triggers revenge attacks in other jails.

The government has struggled to contain the violence which has blighted the prisons and the country as a whole.

On Monday, President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency and night curfews in three coastal provinces after a spate of murders over the weekend, including the killing of the mayor of the city of Manta. The measure will be in force for 60 days.


Source BBC

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