At least 118 inmates were killed when a gang-related riot broke out Tuesday at a high-security prison in Ecuador, officials said.
The riot, which occurred at the Litoral Penitentiary in the city of Guayaquil, involved fights between members of the Los Lobos and Los Choneros gangs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
At least six of the victims were beheaded, authorities said, according to The Guardian. Ecuadorian Interior Minister Alexandra Vela said 41 bodies had been identified, while another 77 remained unidentified, CNN reported Saturday morning.
The inmates reportedly used knives, firearms and explosives to attack one another. In addition to the 118 deaths, roughly 80 people were believed to be injured.
“During the investigation into the massacre authorities seized guns, ammunition, 25 bladed weapons, three explosive devices and various drugs, according to [Ecuador’s prison agency],” CNN reported. “A video released by Ecuador Police on Thursday captured security personnel retrieving some of the items from what appears to be one of the prison cells.
“The clip showed handguns wrapped in plastic, various knives, cell phones, packages of ammunition, and different packages of drugs,” the outlet added.
Ecuador’s government declared a 60-day state of emergency across the nation’s prison system in response to the riot, which gives officials more authority to search inmates and allows for the deployment of the military to prisons.
The country’s prison system is known for its violence — thanks in large part to inmates’ links to the drug trade — with at least 237 people having died in prisons so far this year, according to The Washington Post.
Simultaneous, coordinated uprisings in three prisons in February left 80 people dead in what was, until this week, the deadliest prison riot in Ecuador’s history.
“It’s unfortunate that prisons have become terrain for disputes for power between gangs,“ Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said at a news conference this week.”The Ecuadorean state is going to act.”
Following the riot, one woman spoke to Reuters as she awaited news of her brother, whose release date was just a month away.
“He called me on Wednesday at noon and asked me to please help, that everyone from section five had been killed and only two were alive, but our hands were tied and we could not do anything for him,” Paola Moreira said of her brother Bryan.
“So I have come here to wait.”