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Caption:

Families in desperate need are still waiting outside prison to hear about their loved ones.

According to officials, at least 68 of the prisoners were killed by new fighting at an Ecuadorean jail where over 100 people died during clashes among rival gangs.

According to reports, the riot at Guayaquil’s Litoral Penitentiary began Friday night.

Reports state that police tactical units have discovered explosives and guns in prison cells.

Nearly 300 people have already died in this country’s prisons so far in 2011.

September’s Gang-related Violence was the greatest in Ecuadorian history.

Inmates in one prison wing crawled into a hole and gained access to another wing. They attacked rival gang members. To regain control, hundreds of soldiers and officers were sent to the area.

This deadly brawl saw several inmates beheaded. It brought to light the increasing influence of transnational criminal gangs like the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels, both based in Mexico.

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Guayas Province, Guayas, saw 25 persons injured in the latest fighting. This follows a smaller, more violent clash in early March, in which three prison guards were gunned down.

Later on Saturday, there were more violence reports at the prison. As reinforcements, soldiers were deployed in armored vehicles to secure the perimeter of the facility.

Friends and family of prisoners were eager to get information. They gathered in front of the building. A list of victims was taped to a pole.

Officials believe the violence began after an early release of a top gang leader led to a territorial dispute among rival groups.

Pablo Arosemena (the governor of Guayas Province) said that because this prison had no ringleader other gangs attempted to enter the prison to commit a complete massacre.

He stated that there were around 700 people in the vicinity of the prison where the deadly riot occurred.

A short Twitter statement by President Guillermo Lasso, offered condolences to the “families who lost loved ones”, and stated that new steps were necessary to combat “the mafias profiting from chaos”

In a BBC interview earlier this month, Lasso stated that the government is regaining control of Ecuador’s prisons and other areas where drug traffickers have established a foothold.

While he complained that previous governments were “passive” in their dealings with drug trafficking, the former president warned that rising drug usage would require more than a decade to combat.

He also stated that Ecuador will need to have international support from the US, EU and Colombia to improve its police and armed forces to fight the increasing influence of criminal gangs.

According to officials, Ecuador’s prisons hold approximately 9000 more prisoners than originally intended. Litoral Penitentiary, originally built for 5,300 detainees but now holds 8,500.

Source: BBC.com

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