A fight between rival gangs in a prison in Ecuador escalated into a full-scale riot that left at least 43 inmates dead and enabled more than 200 to escape.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said that one group of inmates left their cells to attack another inside the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo, about 70km (45 miles) west of the capital Quito.
While 112 prisoners have been recaptured, 108 prisoners are still at large.
Mr. Carillo said most of those killed had been stabbed to death.
The riot broke out after a gang leader was transferred to the prison due to a court order, which authorities believe could have caused unrest among convicts.
Mr. Carillo said firearms, explosives, and other weapons were discovered after police assault teams helped take back control of the jail.
It was gathered that one police officer was injured.
Police commander Fausto Salinas said a security fence was built around the jail after the inmates escaped.
The riot was the latest incident of prison violence in Ecuador, which officials have blamed on fights over the control of territory and drug trafficking routes.
At least 316 prisoners died in clashes in Ecuadorian jails in 2021, according to a report.
This includes 119 who died in September in what was described as the country’s worst prison massacre.
A month after the report was published, 20 people died after prison gangs armed with guns and knives clashed in Turi, about 190 miles south of the capital.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has accused the government of abandoning the prison system, which is marred by poor conditions for inmates and a lack of a comprehensive policy.
The nation’s prisons, which house about 35,000 people, are overcrowded at about 15% beyond maximum capacity.
To reduce violence, Conservative President Guillermo Lasso has pledged a gang pacification process, early release for prisoners, and political and social reforms.