the army announces the immediate reopening of all borders


Ecuador: 57 prison guards and police taken hostage

Inmates have taken 57 guards and police hostage at six prisons in Ecuador, in retaliation for recent transfers of detainees and security force interventions in prisons across the country, authorities said Thursday. in the night from Wednesday to Thursday, two vehicle bombs had exploded in front of buildings of the penitentiary administration in Quito, a beginning of mutiny had broken out in a prison for adolescents, and the police had deactivated three grenades ready to explode in another district of the capital. “It has not been an easy day”, euphemized the mayor of the capital of three million inhabitants, Pabel Muñoz, pledging to “work on all fronts so that the peace and tranquility continue to reign”. Once considered an island of peace in Latin America, Ecuador, located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest producers of cocaine, has been hit for several months by a wave of unprecedented violence linked to organized crime and drug trafficking. Much of this violence is taking place in prisons, where powerful criminal gangs are vying for control and the government is trying to regain control. Some 430 prisoners have died in Ecuador since 2021, most often in clashes between drug trafficking gangs. According to the Ecuadorian prison services (SNAI), seven police officers and fifty prison guards “are detained in six centers for the deprivation of liberty”. The SNAI did not provide any details on these incidents. Interior Minister Juan Zapata said earlier that all the guards were taken hostage in the prison of Cuenca (southwest), where the detainees have been protesting since Wednesday against the operations of maintaining order in the prisons. -The taking of hostages “would be a response of criminal groups after the interventions of the police force in the penitentiary centers of the country, the purpose of which is the discovery of prohibited objects which are used during the violence”, estimated the SNAI. On Wednesday, hundreds of soldiers and police carried out a search operation for weapons, ammunition and explosives in a prison in Latacunga (south), one of the largest in the country and the scene of frequent deadly clashes between prisoners. In addition, six people imprisoned for the August 9 assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio had been transferred to other prisons, said Security Minister Wagner Bravo. On July 24, outgoing President Guillermo Lasso had declared a state of emergency throughout the country’s penitentiary system for 60 days, a measure which notably allows the State to send the army to the prisons. The hostage-taking took place after the explosion of a van and a car bomb, a few hours apart, in front of buildings belonging to the penitentiary administration in Quito, without causing a victim. According to the director of anti-drug investigations of the police, General Pablo Ramirez, the vehicles contained “gas cylinders with fuel, a slow fuse and apparently sticks of dynamite”. Three grenades were also destroyed by deminers in another neighborhood of Quito. Twelve people, including one of Colombian nationality, were arrested for the events in the capital, according to the authorities. that the armed forces and the police continue to ensure their role and the control of the prisons”, declared Wagner Bravo on a local radio. On Thursday, an attempted mutiny also took place in a detention center for adolescents in Quito. Several prisoners set fire to their mattresses, and the fire caused four minor injuries, according to firefighters.sp/lv/dga/tmt/lpa/roc 

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