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Ecuadorean prison riots kill more than 50 people

Deaths followed simultaneous violent actions in several prisons across South American nation

Compiled from news agencies WORLD
Published February 24,2021
Tear gas rises from parts of Turi jail where an inmate riot broke out in Cuenca, Ecuador, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Deadly riots broke out in prisons in three cities across the country due to fights between rival gangs, according to police. (AP Photo)

More than 50 people have died in riots in three Ecuadorean prisons that the government described on Tuesday as a concerted action by criminal organizations.

President Lenin Moreno has sought to control prison violence in the Andean country, declaring the prison system in a state of emergency, due to the frequent confrontations between criminal gangs.

"At the moment forensics is reporting more than 50 (prisoners) deceased," the police said on its Twitter account, without giving further details.

Violent acts among inmates were recorded in prisons located in the Guayas, Azuay and Cotopaxi provinces. The government said that a mutiny in the Guayas prison had been controlled.

Government Minister Patricio Pazmino attributed the incidents to "a concerted action by criminal organizations to generate violence in the country's prisons."

Pazmino also reported the government and police are taking steps to regain control.