An explosion carried out by rival gangs in Guayaquil city, Ecuador killed 5 people and injured 16 others.
“Eight buildings were destroyed, sixteen people were injured, five were killed, and two cars were destroyed, as a result of an explosion in the city of Guayaquil, and rescuers continue to work in the area,” The National Emergency Service said in a statement.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo blamed crime gangs for the explosion, without providing further details.
Carrillo wrote on Twitter that organized crime in Ecuador is now attacking with explosives.
“It is a declaration of war against the state,” Carrillo added on Twitter.
Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine producers, Ecuador faces a drug-fueled crime wave that has resulted in horrific scenes, including decapitated bodies hanging from bridges.
Tensions between rival drug gangs have reached the country’s prisons, where clashes and massacres have claimed at least 400 lives since February 2021.
“Either we confront it (organized crime) together, or society will pay an even higher price,” Carrillo said.
Ecuador in 2020 accounted for 6.5 percent of all the cocaine seized in the world, according to the latest United Nations figures.