Two car bombs exploded in Quito, capital of Ecuador, between the night of this Wednesday (30) and the morning of this Thursday (31). According to the Ecuadorian Police, the actions are attacks that targeted the former building of the National Service for Comprehensive Attention to Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), the institution responsible for the country’s prisons.
According to the Police’s anti-drug investigation director, Pablo Ramírez, the attacks occurred in response to a prisoner transfer carried out this Wednesday. The attack left no deaths or injuries.
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Ecuador is experiencing a wave of violence amid the presidential electoral process, which reached its peak following the shooting murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavencio on August 9.
This Thursday morning, Ecuador’s Minister of Security, Wagner Bravo, said that the attacks “want to frighten the State to prevent us from continuing to fulfill the role of the Armed Forces and Police to control penitentiary centers.”
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According to the Police, six people were arrested due to the attacks of the last few hours. They would have criminal records involving theft, extortion and murder.
The attacks occurred shortly after a police and military operation in Latacunga prison, located about 70 km from the capital Quito, under the justification of seizing illegal weapons inside the detention center. The action would have triggered riots in two other prisons, in the Andean regions of Cuenca and Azogues.
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According to the local press, the three prison centers were controlled by the criminal group Los Lobos, a faction that claimed responsibility for the attack that killed presidential candidate Fernando Villavencio.
Violence and elections
The wave of violence that hit the country during the electoral campaign in Ecuador continues before the 2nd presidential round, which should take place on October 15th.
Five days after Villavencio’s death, political leader Pedro Briones, of the Citizen Revolution party, was shot dead. The attack was confirmed by the presidential candidate of the same party, Luisa González, who classified the wave of violence as “a bloody era”.
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González, who will face businessman Daniel Noboa in the 2nd round, could become the first female president of Ecuador and mark the return of progressivism to the country. In recent years, the governments of former President Lenín Moreno and current President Guillermo Lasso brought right-wing policies to the country.
It was during these mandates that the country saw the growth of drug trafficking groups and, consequently, an increase in levels of violence.
Editing: Patrícia de Matos