At least 116 people killed in fight between rival gangs in Ecuador’s prison

At least 116 people are now known to have died in a fight between rival gangs in Ecuador’s jail, officials say, making it the worst prison violence in the country’s history.

At least five inmates were decapitated in Tuesday’s clashes in the city of Guayaquil, while others were shot dead.

Police commander Fausto Buenaño says the prisoners also threw grenades.

It took 400 police officers to regain control of the jail, which houses inmates linked to global drug gangs.

Local media report that the uprising was ordered by powerful Mexican drug trafficking gangs that are now operating in Ecuador.

Ecuador’s prisons service director Bolivar Garzon told local radio the situation was “terrible”.

“Yesterday, police took control at 2:00pm but last night there were other shootings, other things, explosions and today in the morning we took total control, we are entering the pavilions where there was conflict and discovering more bodies,” he said.

It is the latest in a series of deadly incidents involving rival gang members fighting for control of prisons. In February, 79 prisoners were killed in simultaneous fights.

The Litoral Penitentiary, where the latest deadly fight took place on Tuesday night, is considered one of the most dangerous in the country.

Mr Buenaño said that inmates from one wing of the prison had crawled through a hole to gain access to a different wing, where they attacked rival gang members.

More than 80 inmates were injured.

President Guillermo Lasso has declared a state of emergency in the country’s prison system.

In July, President Lasso said that Ecuador’s prison system was 30% over capacity.

He announced plans to expedite the process of releasing those inmates who had served most of their time or had committed minor crimes in order to ease the overcrowding.