Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of exception in two provinces on Tuesday, after at least five police officers were killed and prison guards were taken hostage in the latest wave of attacks in the deadly gang war consuming the country.
The state of exception and nightly curfew in the coastal provinces of Guayas and Esmeraldas will be in place for 45 days and allows the government to limit freedom of assembly and movement.
Officials said organized crime groups launched at least 13 attacks with explosives and firearms against police and oil installations in response to a transfer of inmates from Guayas 1 prison. The prison authority also reported that “shots were fired inside” the facility.
Located in the southwestern port city of Guayaquil in Guayas province, the prison was one of the main scenes of a series of prison massacres that have left about 400 inmates dead since February 2021.
Interior Minister Juan Zapata told reporters in the Ecuadoran capital of Quito on Tuesday that there were “reactions (of) organized crime” in Guayaquil and in the northwestern oil port of Esmeraldas.
These incidents included car bomb attacks and an explosion at a bus terminal.
In the early morning hours, two police officers died when people with firearms attacked their patrol car in Guayaquil, authorities said.
Three more officers were gunned down later in the day in the port and the nearby city of Duran.
A separate attack on a police station there left two officers injured.