Hostages held by inmates in Ecuador’s prisons freed

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All hostages held by inmates in Ecuador’s prisons have been freed, local media reported citing the country’s prison agency SNAI. The hostages were freed by Saturday evening, Xinhua news agency reported. Amid a surge in violence in the country, some 150 prison guards and administrative officials were held hostage by prisoners since Monday.

Taking to X, President Daniel Noboa congratulated SNAI, police and armed forces for the successful release of the prison staff. Major rioting broke out after authorities confirmed last week that Adolfo “Fito” Macias, the country’s major drug trafficker and leader of the criminal gang “Los Choneros”, had escaped from Regional Prison 8 in the southwest city of Guayaquil.

President Noboa declared a nationwide state of emergency to combat criminal activity, especially in prisons, amid an escalation in violence triggered by narco-terrorist groups vying for control of drug-trafficking routes. The violence appeared to spin out of control with explosions going off in a few cities, the armed men breaking into the local television station amid a live broadcast, vehicles being set on fire and the abduction of police officers.

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Following the mass unrest, the President declared Ecuador to be in a state of “internal armed conflict”, allowing the armed forces to be deployed to combat the gangs.