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Five dead in Ecuador, explosives blast officials blame criminal gangs

#dead #Ecuador #explosives #blast #officials #blame #criminal #gangs

Five people died and 16 were injured in an explosion Sunday in the Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil in an attack the government blamed on organized crime, officials said.

Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said “organized crime mercenaries” long involved in the illegal drug trade “are now attacking with explosives”.

“It’s a declaration of war on the state,” Carrillo added on Twitter.

Eight houses and two cars were destroyed in the blast in Guayaquil, the country’s second largest city, according to the Secretariat for Risk Management.

Few other details were immediately available.

Sitting between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two biggest cocaine producers, Ecuador faces a drug-fuelled crime wave that has spawned scenes of horror, including decapitated corpses hanging from bridges.

Tensions between rival drug gangs have reached prisons in Ecuador, where clashes and massacres have claimed at least 400 lives since February 2021.

“Either we confront it (organized crime) together, or society will pay an even greater price,” Carrillo said.

According to the latest figures from the United Nations, Ecuador accounted for 6.5 percent of the world’s cocaine seizures in 2020.

And over the past year, the nation of 18 million people’s homicide rate — 14 homicides per 100,000 people — rose to nearly double the 2020 rate.

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