Over 130 prison staff taken hostage in Ecuador

Recent days in Ecuador have been marked by a surge in violence and unrest, that today continues with over 130 prison guards and staff taken hostage by inmates across multiple prisons in the country.

In Ecuador, over 130 prison guards and other personnel are being taken hostage by inmates across five prisons in the country.

This surge in unrest has prompted President Daniel Noboa to label the situation as a state of war. Attributing the surge in violence to an increase in drug-trafficking gangs transporting cocaine through Ecuador, President Noboa has identified 22 gangs as terrorist organizations, officially designating them as military targets.

He stressed the necessity of a firm stance against these groups, emphasizing the gravity of the situation during an interview with Canela Radio.

The hostage crises began on Monday, coinciding with the reported escape of Adolfo Macias, a prominent leader of the Los Choneros gang, from prison over the weekend. In response to these incidents, President Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency.

Following a series of explosions across the nation and a televised takeover of a TV station by armed individuals, Noboa reinforced the emergency decree. The government has linked the violence to opposition against plans to construct a new high-security prison for gang leaders.

In an effort to address the situation, President Noboa announced intentions to deport foreign prisoners, particularly those from Colombia, aiming to reduce the strain on prison facilities and finances. He highlighted that individuals from Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela make up 90% of the foreign inmate population in Ecuador.

In solidarity with Ecuador’s government, Colombia expressed its support and committed to bolstering military presence and border controls along their shared border, spanning nearly 600 kilometers (370 miles). However, Colombia’s foreign ministry refrained from immediate comment regarding President Noboa’s deportation proposal.

President Noboa reiterated his plans to segregate gang leaders from the general prison population, enhance security at ports, combat corruption, and implement various other measures to address the ongoing challenges in the country.

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