Ecuador’s coastal provinces of Guayas and Esmeraldas have declared a state of emergency and a night-time curfew after five policemen were killed in an attack by organized crime gangs.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency after the incident on Tuesday. Several others were injured in the incident and prison guards were taken hostage.

Officials say criminal gangs have carried out nine attacks on police and oil facilities with explosives and firearms in response to the transfer of prisoners from Guan-1 prison.

400 prisoners have lost their lives since February 2021 in a series of massacres at the Guan prison in the southwestern port city of Guayaquil.

“We responded to organized crime in Guayaquil and northwestern Esmeraldasede,” Interior Minister Juan Zapata told reporters.

Ecuador has been used as a drug transit route in recent years. Europe and America are the main destinations of these drugs.

The murder rate has also doubled in the country. Against 100,000 people, where the murder rate was 14 percent in 2021, it stood at 18 percent from January to October this year.

Law enforcement forces seized 210 tons of drugs in 2021. Most of it is cocaine. So far this year, the amount of drugs seized is 160 tons.

(02 November/DM)