View of the damage caused after an attack against the Community Police Unit at El Arbolito neighborhood in Duran, city neighboring Guayaquil, Ecuador
Julian Assange’s ‘Aggressive Behavior’ Caused Him To Lose Asylum - Ecuador President Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP via Getty Images

Ecuador bolstered its security as the nation is hit by intense waves of violence amid riots sparking within several prisons as well as gang-related conflicts in the streets, killing many police officers as they struggle to regain control. President Guillermo Lasso was forced to declare a 45-day state of emergency in Guayas and Esmeraldas as a response to the widespread bloodshed.

According to CNN, National Security Secretary Diego Ordoñez vowed on Thursday that the government will restore order within the prisons, which are said to be the hotspots for violence, alongside other anticrime operations.

During a press conference, Ecuador's Chief of police Fausto Salinas said a series of bombings struck the country resulting in the death of at least five police officers. Three explosions were reported in the city of Esmeraldas, two of which were car bombings, the other in the area of a community police unit. The attacks were said to have begun when penitentiaries started transferring prisoners to other parts of the country. President Lasso blamed drug cartels for sparking violence within the prisons and all across Ecuador, a country said to be a transitory route for the narcotics trade.

Ecuador's penitentiaries reportedly house inmates far beyond the intended capacity. In July 2021, a former prison chief told local media that Litoral Penitentiary was the most overcrowded. The facility was built to hold 5,000 inmates but now holds more than 9,000. Since September 2021, prisons have been placed on high alert following the increase in violence, as numerous clashes force guards to use automatic weapons and even grenades to regain control.

A prison riot in 2021 left more than 300 inmates dead, according to Ecuador’s prison service SNAI, with another riot killing more than 23, in the country’s northern region. Ministers within the government placed the blame on the government’s ongoing operations to eradicate organized crime. Juan Zapata, the Minister of the Interior said that the country will not lower its guard and the gangs will not destroy police morale, as the state will not give in to organized crime.

Members of the National Police prepare before going out to patrol the streets of Duran
Members of the National Police prepare before going out to patrol the streets of Duran, city neighboring Guayaquil, Ecuador, on November 5, 2022. - Special police forces continued on Friday to transfer imprisoned criminal gang leaders who have unleashed terror in Guayaquil as part of the government's "open war" against drug trafficking. Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP via Getty Images

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