At least twenty people died on Sunday, April 3, during a riot in a prison in southern Equateur, announced the spokesman for the presidency. Fights broke out at 1:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. in Paris) in the high-security section of El Turi prison in Cuenca.
The authorities claimed to have regained control of the premises. Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said 800 police and 200 soldiers had been mobilized to restore order in the establishment. According to him, “five mutilated bodies” were found and five injured were in serious condition. He explained that the detention blocks were evacuated one by one to confiscate weapons and ” to clean “ the prison.
“An organization wants to take full control of the prison, but some oppose it”, he said earlier in the day, making prison overcrowding responsible for the situation. In the middle of the day, detainees and police were on the roofs of the prison.
320 prisoners killed in fights in 2021
Ecuador regularly faces violence in its prisons, usually linked to gangs. Thus, 320 prisoners were killed in fights in 2021, including 79 in February in several simultaneous riots in four prisons.
The heaviest toll – 119 dead – was recorded in September in a prison in the province of Guayas, in the south-west of the country. And, two months later, in the same establishment, 62 prisoners died during clashes between members of rival gangs using explosives, machetes and firearms.
The country has 65 prisons with a total capacity of 30,000 places but accommodating 39,000 prisoners, including 15,000 without conviction.