More than 50 prison guards and seven police officers have been taken hostage in several jails in Ecuador, according to officials in Ecuador, with a dentention center for juvenile offenders being burned to the ground, and car bombs going off in various parts of the country, often close to law enforcement installations.
Two car bombs also went off in the capital Quito, both targeting the country’s prisons authority (SNAI).
Nobody was hurt in the bombings and at least six people have been arrested.
The authorities believe at least one of the incidents could be retaliation for a police search for weapons at one of the country’s biggest jails.
However, El Mercurio of Cuenca suggest that the real reason as that the transfer of the six defendants for the murder of Fernando Villavicencio and the search carried out at the Cotopaxi Deprivation of Liberty Center (CPL) provoked the reaction of criminal groups that, in retaliation, took violence from prisons to the streets.
Four cars bombs have exploded in the country; they caused explosions in Cuenca; riots began in the nearby prisons of Turi and Azogues; they set fire to the detention center for minor offenders in the capital and kidnapped 57 prison officers and police officers.
As reported by Wagner Bravo, Secretary of Security, continues El Mercurio, the decision to transfer those involved in the murder of Villavicencio was made because Intelligence warned of a threat to their lives, which would have hindered the investigations, they were taken to the maximum prison. security known as The Rock.
“We are concerned about the safety of our officials,” said Mr Zapata.
Police said the later attack was carried out using a vehicle that had been rigged with explosives.
Quito Mayor Pabel Munoz said there were also grenade explosions in the city during the night.
Ecuador is facing growing violence linked to drug trafficking gangs, which has put a huge strain on the under-resourced and overcrowded prison system.
Hundreds of inmates have been killed in deadly fights in Ecuador’s overcrowded jails in recent years.
On Wednesday, hundreds of police officers and soldiers carried out a search for weapons and explosives in Cotopaxi jail in Latacunga, about 55 miles south of Quito, as part of efforts to prevent further violence.
“But we are firm and we are not going to go back on the objective of capturing dangerous criminals, dismantling criminal gangs and pacifying the country’s prisons.”
After noon on August 31, the Virgilio Guerrero detention center for juvenile offenders was set on fire by the teenagers who were detained there. As reported by the Quito Fire Department, 80% of the site was consumed and the destruction left the site unusable, due to damage to the structures.
As a result of the fire, four minors were injured and the 83 who were staying at the site were transferred to Ibarra, Imbabura province, while a new site is established for them to serve their sentences in the city of Quito.
Authorities have been criticized by journalists by providing almost no information about the situation.
A Web site called Red Informativa reported that 15 guards and five policemen had been released from the Turi prison at Cuenca, while another site called Código Vidrio said 50 guards and seven police officers walked out a side entrance of the prison to freedom. Código claimed its information was provided “unofficially” by General Pablo Ramírez, Director of Ecuador’s Intelligence Directorate.
Other reports said that the prison cooks had been released and that those who remained inside the prison were getting hungry.
Sources: BBC, El Universo. Cuenca High Life.