At least 116 people were killed and 80 were injured Tuesday in an Ecuadorian prison riot that stood witness to five beheadings, said officials in the South American country.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso issued a state of emergency in the national prison system, which permits the government to send troops and armed police to the nation's prisons, according to comments Lasso made Wednesday.
"It is regrettable that the prisons are being turned into territories for power disputes by criminal gangs," he said.
He would act in "absolute firmness" to retake command of the prison and restrict bloodshed from spreading to other prisons, Lasso said.
Since the violence began, social media has been filled with images of bodies covering the ninth and 10th pavilions, which officials said more closely resemble a battlefield than a prison facility.
Gang members battled with guns, knives, and bombs, said regional police Cmdr. Fausto Buenano.
Bodies have been found all over, including in the prison's piping, Buenano added.
Outside the walls of Litoral penitentiary, family members of inmates wept for those within the prison and detailed how combatants are being decapitated and dismembered, according to a report.
"In the history of the country, there has not been an incident similar or close to this one," said Ledy Zuniga, the former president of Ecuador's National Rehabilitation Council.
The two gangs believed to be battling for transitional control are the Los Lobos and Los Choneros, officials said.
"They want to sow fear," said Col. Mario Pazmino, former director of Ecuador's military intelligence. "The more radical and violent the way they murder, the more they achieve their goal of control."
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Original Author: Luke Gentile