31 dead in prison violence in Ecuador

The bodies of 31 people were found dumped in an underground tunnel near a prison in Ecuador on Monday, police said, in what they said was the second such attack in six months.

Guards found the bodies, most of them with gunshot wounds, after an early morning fight among inmates at Puente San Miguel prison on the outskirts of Guayaquil, a capital city, said Gonzalo Valenzuela, a spokesman for Ecuador’s Judicial Police.

“During that fight, more than 25 of the cells were attacked, two others were set on fire, as well as the tunnels,” Valenzuela said in a phone interview. “What we’re discovering today is the result of the violence”

Authorities sent reinforcements to the prison, which holds about 1,500 inmates, said Valenzuela, adding that he did not know whether the fight had been resolved.

There was no immediate comment from the government of Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, who visited the capital Guayaquil following the violence.

Oscar Chan, a spokesman for the National Police, said this was the second jailbreak in six months in Puente San Miguel, which is controlled by the same criminal gang as another jail in Guayaquil.

In September, inmates attacked the Choquirá penitentiary and took about 100 people hostage before apparently killing some hostages and killing other inmates. The rest were freed by authorities.

Moreno, a longtime lawyer who took office in May 2018, said at the time that the government would take steps to improve conditions at prisons.

Violence in prisons has risen across Latin America in recent years as gang leaders seize control of jails, extorting prisoners and passing their criminal networks to younger generations, rights activists say.

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