Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso has announced a 45-day overnight curfew in two provinces after an escalation in gang violence that killed five police officers.
The 9 p.m. curfew came into force Tuesday in Guayas and Esmeraldas provinces after a string of separate attacks in apparent response to prisoner transfers.
Police said there were six explosions in the coastal city of Guayaquil, the capital of Guayas, and a further three blasts in Esmeraldas, where seven prison officers were temporarily taken hostage by inmates. Two police officers were killed in an attack on a patrol car and another three were shot dead later in the day, reported the BBC.
Lasso called the violence ”an open declaration of war,” declaring a state of emergency in the two provinces — home to around four million people — in a move to restore order.
The escalating gang violence in Ecuador is linked to the drug trade and conflict between rival groups. Violence has surged in the country’s overcrowded jails since late 2020, killing at least 400 people. Last year Litoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil was the site of the country’s worst prison massacre.