20 dead in Ecuador prison riot
The outbreak is the latest in deadly violence in the South American country's correctional facilities.
According to the President's office, at least 20 people were killed in a jail riot early Sunday in southern Ecuador, the latest outbreak of lethal violence in the South American country's correctional facilities.
President Guillermo Lasso's press office stated that the 20 reported dead in El Turi Prison in Cuenca "have been transferred to the Forensic Center of Cuenca."
According to Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo, five of the prisoners were "mutilated" during the violence.
Ecuador has struggled in recent years to curb gang-related prison violence, with 320 inmates dying in 2021.
Carrillo informed reporters that the violence was gang-related and had been brought "under control" after 800 police officers and 200 members of the armed services were deployed.
He added that although the clashes ended, there are still armed inmates inside the jail. Authorities were evacuating blocs individually so weapons could be confiscated.
"There is an organization that wants to take absolute control inside the center (but) some cells rebelled," he said.
Earlier in the day, Carrillo tweeted that Ecuador needs legal reforms to discipline rioters in prisons.
"We need strong provisions for those that carry out this violence. They are identified and must lose all kinds of prison benefits," he said.
Family members of prisoners were waiting outside the prison while they awaited new developments.
Ecuador's 65 prisons are overpopulated by 30%, and last year, the country saw multiple bloody uprisings.
Prison rioting killed 79 inmates in February 2021. In September, 119 inmates were slain in one of the deadliest prison massacres in Latin American history at a jail in Guayas, Ecuador's most populated province.
The same Guayas prison had a gang fight that left 62 prisoners dead.
"Latin American prisons have for a long time become a constant threat, but the desire is there and we will take the necessary actions," according to Carrillo.
The country has been shook by an increasing drug war, which has resulted in an increase in the number of gangs vying for control of the illicit but lucrative drug trade.