Another Ecuador prison riot kills at least 24 people

(Reuters) – At least 24 prisoners died and another 48 were injured in a riot at an Ecuadorean jail, the government said on Tuesday, the third deadly uprising this year in the Andean nation’s prison system.

The incident took place at the Penitenciaria del Litoral in Guayas province, a facility that has in recent months witnessed bloody fights between gangs for control of the prison.

“An alert was activated in the Center for the Deprivation of Liberty Guayas N1 due gunshots and explosions in several areas,” state prison agency SNAI said in a statement. “As a result of the confrontation, 24 (prisoners) died and 48 suffered injuries.”

The SNAI said authorities were able to regain control of the facility in the afternoon, following an earlier evacuation of personnel and the deployment of police officers inside the prison and military officers to guard the exterior.

Riots broke out in February and July in the country’s prison system, which houses some 39,000 inmates. At least 79 people died in the February violence, and in July it was at least 22.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has previously condemned the violence and Human Rights Watch urged Ecuador’s government to fully investigate the prison violence and bring those responsible to justice.

President Guillermo Lasso in August said the government would provide more funding for the overcrowded prison system to build new wards and install new equipment to improve security.