At least 67 dead in blood-soaked prison riots after power dispute between gangs

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At least 67 inmates have been killed in prison riots across Ecuador.

In a tweet, Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno said gangs had carried out “simultaneous acts of violence in several prisons in the country”.

According to authorities, riots erupted in prisons in the cities of Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga.

Local media reports that both guns and knives were used by inmates during the bloody riots.

The violence was said to have broken out over a power dispute between criminal gangs, according to local media.

"Criminal organisations carry out acts of simultaneous violence in several prisons in the country," President Lenín Moreno wrote in a tweet. "The [National Police] in coordination with the Interior Minister [Patricio Pazmiño] are acting to regain control of prisons in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga."

Police General Commander Patricio Carrillo said on Twitter on Tuesday that additional security forces had been dispatched to the prisons to regain control of them following the riots.

He added that the riots had involved high-security prisoners.

“All the prisons at the moment have restrictions and controls in place,” Carrillo wrote.

"At the moment forensics is reporting more than 50 (prisoners) deceased," the police said on its Twitter account, without giving further details.

Edmundo Moncayo, director of the National Service for Comprehensive Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders of Ecuador said all of those dead had been "persons deprived of liberty".

"There are no deceased officials, but we do have injured policemen," he said.

A woman visiting an inmate at the Turi Social Rehabilitation Center said the riot started around 10am local time and that she saw an image of a dead prisoner on a mobile phone.

The woman said visitors were prohibited from leaving the visiting area, and that some of the prisoners were removed from the room over fears that they were going to be killed.

The visitors eventually were allowed to exit after emergency alarms sounded off.

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 prison.

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