Officials said gun and knife battles between rival gangs erupted on Monday night in three separate prisons.
At least 62 people have been killed and dozens more injured in three separate prison riots in Ecuador, authorities said on Tuesday.
Officials blamed the riots at detention facilities in the cities of Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga on disputes between rival gangs.
Local media reported prisoners were killed in gun and knife attacks.
“These were two groups vying for criminal leadership within the detention centres,” said Edmundo Moncayo, director of Ecuador’s prison agency.
Moncayo said at least 62 deaths had been reported so far.
Authorities have been able “to control and restore order within the detention centres” with the help of an additional 800 police officers, he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Police General Commander Patricio Carrillo said on Twitter the riots involved high-security prisoners.
“All the prisons at the moment have restriction and controls in place,” Carrillo wrote.
Ante los hechos suscitados el día de hoy en los CRS Guayas, Azuay y Cotopaxi @PoliciaEcuador se encuentra gestionando el control de los mismos. Al momento Criminalística reporta más de 50 PPL fallecidos.
Seguiremos informando… pic.twitter.com/OTbX3ziazU
— Policía Ecuador (@PoliciaEcuador) February 23, 2021
Translation: Given the events that occurred today in Guayas, Azuay and Cotopaxi @PoliciaEcuador is managing the control of them. At the moment there are reports of more than 50 dead. We will continue to inform …
The riots reportedly erupted on Monday night after prisoners took prison guards hostage.
Local media reported that several ambulances were seen leaving the jails.
As news of the riots was made public, dozens of prisoners’ relatives gathered outside the facilities to get more information on what was happening, local media said.
Images and videos circulating on social media showed inmates gathered on a prison rooftop with police officers on motorcycles and in patrol cars surrounding the building.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno tweeted that gangs had carried out “simultaneous acts of violence in several prisons in the country”.
He said police, in coordination with Minister of Government Patricio Pazmino Castillo, were working to regain control of the prisons.
The government said some police officers were wounded, without giving further details. Prison officials managed to evacuate during the riots.
Prison riots and disputes between rival gangs frequently occur in Ecuador.
Five inmates were killed in a brawl in a prison in Latacunga in December.