A state of emergency has been activated within Ecuador’s prison system following a bloodbath inside a coastal lockup that caused the deaths of at least 116 people, five of whom were beheaded.
The bloodshed within the Litoral penitentiary in Guayaquil, which killed 116 people and injured 80, has been blamed on gangs linked to international drug cartels that are currently fighting over control of the prison. Authorities have called this incident the worst prison bloodbath in Ecuador’s history.
On September 29th, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the prison system, granting the government the power to deploy police and soldiers inside prisons.
“It is regrettable that the prisons are being turned into territories for power disputes by criminal gangs,” Lasso said, adding that he would be taking strong action to regain control of the penitentiary and to prevent the violence from spreading to other prisons.
Images of the aftermath of the bloodbath have circulated on social media, showing dozens of bodies and carnage that resembled battlefields. The inmates fought with firearms, knives, and bombs, according to authorities. The violence was so brutal and widespread that bodies were being found inside the prison’s pipelines.
“In the history of the country, there has not been an incident similar or close to this one,” said Ledy Zúñiga, the former president of Ecuador’s National Rehabilitation Council.
Relatives of inmates gathered outside of the prison’s morgue, mourning the loss of their loved ones. Many spoke to reporters, providing them with graphic details as to how their relatives were killed and dismembered.