Violent clashes that erupted in an Ecuadorian prison on Tuesday have killed 118 people and wounded 79, the country’s prison agency said late Thursday.
The death toll represents a significant uptick from earlier estimates after the disturbances at the Litoral Penitentiary, located on the outskirts of the coastal city of Guayaquil.
The Ecuadorian prison agency SNAI had earlier reported detonations and “fights between criminal gangs” in one of the pavilions of the prison.
During the investigation into the massacre authorities seized guns, ammunition, 25 bladed weapons, three explosive devices and various drugs, according to SNAI. A video released by Ecuador Police on Thursday captured security personnel retrieving some of the items from what appears to be one of the prison cells. The clip showed handguns wrapped in plastic, various knives, cell phones, packages of ammunition, and different packages of drugs.
The video shows handguns wrapped in plastic, various knives, cell phones, packages of ammunition, and different packages of drugs.
Those killed and injured suffered from injuries resulting from bullets and grenades, according to regional police commander Fausto Buenaño.
“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.
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso said in a televised address on Wednesday that the prison was not yet entirely secured, and urged inmates’ relatives and families to stay away from the area.
“I wish I was able right now to say that yes, we have completely secured the Litoral Penitentiary, but frankly I cannot. This meeting we just had was to organize the next steps forward, and I hope in the next few hours you will see some of the plans we agreed in action,” he said.
At least five of the deceased prisoners were beheaded before responding police and the tactical forces “managed to restore order,” the governor of Guayas Province, Pablo Arosemena, said Tuesday.
Ecuador’s prisons have been racked with bloodshed this year, with more than 140 violent deaths reported, according to SNAI figures.
In response to the latest deaths, the government has declared a 60-day state of emergency across Ecuador’s prisons. The measure allows military troops to be deployed to penitentiaries, and limits inmates’ rights to privacy and free association in order to allow searches and other surveillance measures.
The state will devote $24 million to the prisons system during the state of emergency, Lasso added during his speech.
The head of Ecuador’s Armed Forces and the General Commander of Ecuador Police conducted an inspection of the prison to ensure security and protection measures were in place, Ecuador’s Armed Forces said on their official Twitter account Thursday.
Reporting contributed by CNN’s Abel Alvarado, Radina Gigova, Sharif Paget in Atlanta, Ally Barnard in Hong Kong, and Ana Maria Canizares in Quito, Ecuador.