Ecuador, one of the most peaceful countries in the world, has recently been rocked with serious unrest, gang fights, killings, and bombings.
On Thursday, there was a series of car bombings and the hostage-taking of more than 50 law enforcement officers inside various prisons.
Ecuador’s National Police reported no injuries resulting from the four explosions in Quito, the capital, and in a province that borders Peru.
Interior Minister Juan Zapata also said none of the law enforcement officers taken hostage in six different prisons had been injured.
The crimes happened three weeks after the killing of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.
In Quito, the first bomb went off Wednesday night in an area where an office of the country’s corrections system was previously located.
Ecuador National Police Gen. Pablo Ramírez, the national director of anti-drug investigations, told reporters on Thursday that police found gas cylinders, fuel, fuses, and blocks of dynamite among the residue of the crime locations in Quito, where the first vehicle to explode was a small car and the second was a pickup truck.
Authorities said gas tanks were used in the explosions in the El Oro communities of Casacay and Bella India.
Zapata said seven of the prison hostages were police officers and the rest were prison guards. In a video shared on social media, which Zapata identified as authentic, a police officer who identifies himself as Lt. Alonso Quintana asks authorities “not to make decisions that violate the rights of persons deprived of their liberty.”
Los Choneros and similar groups linked to Mexican and Colombian cartels are fighting over drug-trafficking routes and control of territory, including within detention facilities, where at least 400 inmates have died since 2021.