Riots in three Ecuadorian prisons have killed at least 79 and injured dozens, officials said on Tuesday.
Ecuador President Lenín Moreno said that criminal organizations inside the prisons carried out simultaneous acts of violence and that the government was working with police to regain control, he wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
The prison riots in cities Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga were caused by gangs competing for leadership, officials said.
Director of prison authority SNAI Edmundo Moncayo said, “These were two groups vying for criminal leadership within the detention centres.”
Moncayo also said that 800 police officers were deployed to restore order within the prisons.
Officials say initial reports estimate 62 dead. In Cuenca, 33 were reportedly killed, 21 in Guayaquil and eight in Latacunga, with the figure still increasing.
Moreno said he has arranged with the defense ministry to “exercise strict control of arms, ammunition and explosives in the outer perimeters of prisons,” he wrote on Twitter.
Editors Note: This bulletin was updated after Ecuadorian authorities increased the death toll.
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