At least five people have been killed in an explosion in the Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil. Another 16 were injured, as the South American country’s risk and civil protection department announced on Twitter on Sunday. Eight houses and two vehicles were also destroyed. According to the first reports, according to the Ecuadorian newspaper “El Universo”, shots and then an explosion could be heard.
Ecuadorian interior minister Patricio Carrillo blamed members of criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking. “The organized crime mercenaries who have long drugged the economy are now attacking with explosives,” Carrillo wrote on Twitter. “This is a declaration of war on the state.” The attorney general’s office tweeted that evidence was being collected to determine the cause of the explosion.
President Guillermo Lasso had declared a state of emergency in April because of the increasing violence in the province of Guayas, whose capital is Guayaquil. According to reports, there had been explosions outside the prison and bomb threats in court buildings in the days before.
In September, 118 people were killed in bloody gang fighting in a prison near the port city of Guayaquil. Prisons in Ecuador, like elsewhere in Latin America, are overcrowded. Many prisons are controlled by gangs. Numerous imprisoned bosses run their criminal organizations from prison. “The enemy is the drug trade,” said Guayas Governor Pablo Arosemena.