Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in two provinces of the country after at least five police officers were killed and prison guards were taken hostage in the latest wave of attacks in the deadly gang war ravaging the country.
For 45 days, the coastal provinces of Guayas and Esmeraldas will be under a nightly curfew and a state of emergency, which gives the government the authority to restrict freedom of assembly and movement.
According to authorities, following the transfer of convicts from Guayas 1 jail, organised crime groups carried out at least 13 attacks using explosives and firearms against police and oil sites. Additionally, the jail administration said that "shots were fired inside" the building.
The prison, which is situated in the Guayas province's coastal city of Guayaquil, was one of the focal points in a string of prison massacres that have claimed over 400 lives since February 2021.
According to Ecuador's interior minister Juan Zapata, there have been "reactions (of) organized crime" in Guayaquil and the oil port of Esmeraldas in the region's northwest.
These occurrences included bus terminal explosions and automobile bombings.
Authorities in Guayaquil reported that two police officers were killed early one morning when gunmen ambushed their patrol car.
Later that day, three additional officers were shot and killed in the port and the nearby city of Duran.
Two cops were hurt in a separate attack on a police station there.
In recent years, Ecuador has transformed from a drug transit route to a significant distribution hub in its own right, with the United States and Europe pe as the primary destinations.
Ecuador's murder rate rose to 18 per 100,000 people between January and October of this year, nearly doubling to 14 per 100,000 in 2021.
Law enforcement captured 210 tons of drugs, principally cocaine, in 2021, a record amount. Seizures this year amount to 160 tons so far.