Ecuador says clashes between prison gangs leave more than 100 dead

QUITO, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Ecuador’s penitentiary system said on Wednesday that the death toll from a prison riot that took place on Tuesday had risen to at least 100 and that authorities were still working to determine the full toll.

The South American nation on Tuesday night reported clashes at the Penitenciaria del Litoral in Guayas province, which has been the scene of bloody fights between gangs for control of the prison in recent months.

“As of now we can confirm that there are more than 100 prisoners dead and 52 injured during the incidents that took place on Tuesday, Sept 28,” Ecuador’s SNAI prison service wrote on Twitter, adding that police and prosecutors were still investigating.

Hours earlier, SNAI director Bolivar Garzon had told reporters that at least 30 prisoners had died and that authorities were still working to remove 10 bodies.

Dozens of people arrived at the jail to seek information about relatives and demand accountability from officials responsible for the inmates’ safety. The government bolstered military presence outside the facility.

Riots broke out in February and July in the country’s prison system, which houses some 39,000 inmates. At least 79 people died in the February violence, and in July at least 22 lives were lost.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has previously condemned the violence, and Human Rights Watch urged Ecuador’s government to fully investigate the prison violence and bring those responsible to justice.

President Guillermo Lasso in August said the government would provide more funding for the overcrowded prison system to build new wards and install new equipment to improve security.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Quito; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Sam Holmes

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