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Six dead, eight wounded in Ecuador gang shooting

GUAYAQUIL (AFP) – Six people were killed and eight wounded on Monday in an apparent gang shootout in Guayaquil, a port city in Ecuador terrorised by a wave of violence blamed on a spiraling drug war, authorities said.

Police Colonel Marcelo Castillo told AFP that six people had died in Guayaquil’s second mass shooting this month, which appeared to have been a settling of scores between rival gangs.

The prosecutor’s office later said eight others had been wounded and taken to local hospitals, while no one had so far been arrested.

Such attacks have become ever-more frequent in Ecuador, especially in Guayaquil, as rival gangs ramp up the fight for drug markets and routes in the country’s overcrowded prisons and on the streets – leaving a trail of corpses in their wake.

More than 420 prisoners have died in vicious fighting between rival criminal groups in Ecuadoran prisons since February 2021, many beheaded or burned alive.

A relative of a victim waits outside the police morgue in southern Guayaquil, Ecuador. PHOTO: AFP

Widespread corruption among guards has allowed inmates to obtain guns and explosives.

As the lawlessness spreads, there have been several car bomb explosions in Ecuadoran cities, and bodies discovered hanging from pedestrian bridges.

The country is also increasingly plagued by sadistic kidnappings, with criminals sending hostages’ fingers to their loved ones to pressure them into paying more ransom.

In Monday’s shooting, Castillo said the attackers arrived in a black vehicle in a populated neighbourhood in the early hours. “Four or five got out” and opened fire, despite several people being in the street.