At least 116 people were killed after a ferocious battle between rival gangs erupted in an Ecuador prison, the country’s authorities said on Wednesday.
Another 80 inmates were injured during the Tuesday night clashes at the Penitenciaria del Litoral in Guayas province, which has been the scene of bloody fights between gangs for control of the prison in recent months.
At least five of the dead in the riot at Litoral penitentiary in Guayaquil were beheaded. It was the worst prison bloodbath the country has ever seen.
Prison in Ecuador resembled a battlefield
Images circulating on social media showed dozens of bodies in the prison’s Pavilions 9 and 10 and scenes that looked like battlefields.
Ecuador Yesterday; The death toll from clashes between gangs in an Ecuadorian prison has surpassed 100, & 52 wounded, as soldiers surrounded the facility that’s one of the country's many overburdened and understaffed jails. pic.twitter.com/jpeo2JfB16
— @KassMedefer (@KMedefer) September 30, 2021
The fighting was with firearms, knives and bombs, officials said. Earlier, regional police commander Fausto Buenaño had said that bodies were being found in the prison’s drainage pipes.
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.
“The inmates call us (saying) ‘Sister they are killing me. Call the police, they need to enter the pavilion (prison wing) five,” the sister of one inmate told Reuters.
“It is unfortunate that criminal groups are attempting to convert prisons into a battleground for power disputes,” Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said.
“I ask God to bless Ecuador and that we can avoid more loss of human life.”
Lasso, who declared a state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system, said he would send additional security forces and free up funds to avoid a repeat of the atrocity.
Officials said the violence erupted from a dispute between the “Los Lobos” and “Los Choneros” prison gangs.
Bloody history of Ecuador prisons
Earlier this year, in July, the president decreed a state of emergency in Ecuador’s prison system following several violent episodes that resulted in more than 100 inmates being killed.
Those deaths occurred in various prisons and not in a single facility like Tuesday’s massacre.
Previously, the bloodiest day occurred in February, when 79 prisoners died in simultaneous riots in three prisons in the country.
In July, 22 more prisoners lost their lives in the Litoral penitentiary, while in September a penitentiary center was attacked by drones, resulting in no fatalities.