Ecuador declares state of emergency after bomb attack kills 5

Ecuador declares state of emergency after bomb attack kills 5
Photo: Axel Naranjo/Shutterstock

President Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador declared a national state of emergency on Sunday after five people were killed and at least another 16 were injured by an explosion in Guayaquil, the country’s second-largest city. The blasts were reportedly linked to organized crime and destroyed two cars and dozens of houses.

Confirming that “all public forces” will be used to “reestablish the city’s control,” Mr. Lasso tweeted that his administration would “not allow organized crime to try to run the country.”

Later, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said the attacks targeted a local man nicknamed “Cucaracha,” who the local press say has a criminal record. He survived the attacks and was admitted to the hospital. The target of the bombing is also allegedly the owner of several clandestine nightclubs in Guayaquil.

Mr. Carillo insisted that the man is linked to the violent Los Tiguerones gang. “[The bombing] is a declaration of war on the state,” he tweeted.

Ecuador has been dealing with a profound public security crisis in recent years, especially inside its overcrowded gang-controlled prisons. After a recent massacre in Santo Domingo de Los Tsáchilas, 80 kilometers west of capital Quito, the total prisoner death tally since December 2020 surpassed 400. 

The Ecuadorian prison system is reportedly overpopulated by at least 9 percent. 

Security issues in Ecuador could also become a problem for Guayaquil officials: the port city is set to host the grand final of the Copa Libertadores football tournament on October 29. However, there is speculation that officials could alter the venue due to logistical and infrastructural problems.