Five people died and 16 were injured in an explosion on Sunday in the Ecuadoran port city of Guayaquil. The government of the country said the incident occurred as a part of organized crime, officials said.
Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the country’s second largest city of Guayaquil, where eight houses and two cars were destroyed in the blast.
Lasso warned on Twitter that his year-old government would “not allow organized crime to try to control the country.”
The state of emergency will be in force from Sunday in Guayaquil, and will last for 30 days, said security secretary Diego Ordonez.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said the five dead had been identified and none had a criminal record.
He blamed the blast on “organized-crime mercenaries,” long involved in illicit drug traffic. “It is a declaration of war against the state,” Carrillo added on Twitter.
Drug-fueled crime wave
Guayaquil, 270 kilometers (168 miles) southwest of the capital Quito, has seen frequent shootings and killings by members of rival gangs believed to have links to national and international drug trafficking.
Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine producers, Ecuador is facing a drug-fueled crime wave that has produced scenes of horror, including decapitated bodies hanging from bridges.
Tensions between rival drug gangs have reached into Ecuador’s prisons, where clashes and massacres have claimed at least 400 lives since February 2021.
Ecuador in 2020 accounted for 6.5% of all the cocaine seized in the world, according to the latest United Nations figures.
dh/jsi (AP, AFP, dpa)