57 guards are held hostage in prisons in Ecuador G1

57 guards are held hostage in prisons in Ecuador G1

1 of 1 police officers monitor the area where a car bomb exploded in central Quito, Ecuador, on August 31, 2023. — Photo: Rodrigo Buendía/ AP Police officers monitor the area where a car bomb exploded in central Quito. Ecuador, August 31, 2023. — Photo: Rodrigo Buendía/ AP

The National Service for Attention to Persons Deprived of Liberty (Snai), the body responsible for the prison system, said seven hostages were police officers. “We are concerned about the safety of our employees,” Interior Minister Juan Zapata said at a news conference.

On Wednesday (30), hundreds of soldiers and police conducted a search for weapons, ammunition and explosives at a prison in the Andean town of Latacunga in southern Ecuador. As one of the largest prisons in the country, the prison is a frequent site of massacres 430 people have died in the facilities since 2021.

The hypotheses about the hostages changed throughout the day. The state agency responsible for prisons (Snai) initially said it was retaliation for the “intervention” of security forces. Authorities later said the restraint was a protest against the transfer of inmates to other prisons.

On Thursday morning, two car bombs exploded in the Ecuadorian capital within less than twelve hours. The action, which resulted in no injuries, may be related to government security operations in prisons across the country carried out this week.

Car bombs explode in Quito, Ecuador

The car bombs exploded in Snaiaffiliated buildings, one of which was operational and the other deactivated. Six suspects, five Ecuadorians and one Colombian, were arrested for the first attack and four others for the second blast, authorities said.

“There are violent actions like the two burned cars in Quito last night, this is clearly a reaction to an action.” “The action to impose order in prisons, the reaction to intimidation,” said Guillermo Lasso, the country’s president.

The case shocked the country and the world and shone a light on the huge increase in violence in Ecuador, which in recent years has become a haven for criminal groups in Colombia and a route for drug trafficking in Latin America.

The National Police recorded 3,568 violent deaths in the first six months of this year, compared to 2,042 in the same period in 2022. Last year ended with 4,600 violent deaths, the highest rate in the country’s history and twice as many as in 2021.

Attack in Ecuador: Understand the country’s political context