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38 nations offer help to tackle violence: Ecuadorian Prez

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38 nations offer help to tackle violence: Ecuadorian Prez

Quito, Jan 12 (Ajit Weekly News) Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa announced that 38 nations have offered to help his country tackle an unprecedented wave of violence unleashed by “terrorist” gangs linked to drug trafficking.

In light of the “internal armed conflict” that Ecuador is currently facing, Noboa said: “it is not the time to say, out of ego or vanity, (that) no, we will protect our sovereignty, do not send military forces here,” Xinhua news agency reported

Several countries have lately expressed solidarity with Ecuador, denouncing narco-terrorism as a hemispheric scourge and offering military aid.

“We need military support … soldiers as well as assistance in intelligence, artillery and equipment,” said the President, who declared a 60-day state of emergency on Monday to grant security forces broad powers to combat organised crime, especially in prisons.

The state of emergency was declared after major rioting broke out on Sunday that led to the escape of Adolfo “Fito” Macias, the country’s major drug trafficker and leader of the criminal gang “Los Choneros”, had escaped from Regional Prison 8 in the southwest city of Guayaquil.

Riots erupted in several other prisons also, with inmates taking 178 people hostage at seven facilities, according to the latest report issued Thursday by the nation’s jail management agency.

The hostages comprise 158 prison guards and 20 administrative officials at facilities in the southern provinces of El Oro, Canar, Loja, and Azuay, as well as in the northern province of Esmeraldas, and the central provinces of Cotopaxi and Tungurahua, the agency said.

On Tuesday, the violence appeared to spin out of control with explosions going off in a few cities, armed men breaking into the local television station amid a live broadcast, vehicles being set on fire and the abduction of police officers.

At least 10 people have died as a result of the violence.

On Wednesday, Noboa declared Ecuador to be in a state of “internal armed conflict”, allowing the armed forces to be deployed to combat the gangs.

The government has identified members of 22 criminal organisations as “terrorists” in an executive order.

A night-time curfew is currently in place in the city of Guayaquil, while hundreds of soldiers are still patrolling the streets of capital Quito.

Schools have remained closed across the country, with classes taking place online.

The latest unrest comes as Ecuador has witnessed a recent spike in violent crime.

Ecuador, a country of approximately 17.5 million people, recorded nearly 3,568 violent deaths from the beginning of 2023 until July, which was an increase of 75 pe rcent over the same period the year prior.

The South American nation also shattered records for homicides in 2022, cataloguing a total of 4,603 violent deaths.

According to statistics released by the national police, that amounted to nearly 12.6 murders per day.

Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was also assassinated just ahead of the August 20, 2023 general elections, which led to then President Guillermo Lasso to declare a national state of emergency on August 10 for 60 days.

Before he was shot dead, Villavicencio had reported receiving death threats from Adolfo “Fito” Macias, who escaped from prison on Sunday.

–Ajit Weekly News

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