By Vatican News staff writer
Gangs are being blamed for the tragic loss of lives in three of Ecuador's prisons on Tuesday. Officials have reported that the deaths, adding up to at least 75, and the injuries of dozens more in the cities of Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga are a result of gang rivalry.
Edmundo Moncayo, the director of Ecuador’s prison agency stated on Tuesday that “these were two groups vying for criminal leadership within the detention centres”.
The riots reportedly erupted on Monday night after prisoners took prison guards hostage.
An additional 800 police officers were sent to help authorities "control and restore order within the detention centres" said Edmundo Moncayo.
Distraught family members waited desperately for news outside the prison in Ecuador’s western port city of Guayaquil, where officials said 21 people died. Another 33 died at the prison in Cuenca in the south and eight in Latacunga in the centre of the country.
Deadly prison riots have happened relatively frequently in recent years in Ecuador, where prisons are designed for 27,000 inmates but house about 38,000. In December five inmates were killed in a brawl in a prison in Latacunga.