More than 38 countries have offered to help Ecuador tackle a wave of violence unleashed by “terrorist” gangs linked to drug trafficking, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa announced Thursday.
In light of the “internal armed conflict” that Ecuador is currently facing, Noboa said, “it is not the time to say, out of ego or vanity, (that) no, we will protect our sovereignty, do not send military forces here.”
“We need military support … soldiers as well as assistance in intelligence, artillery and equipment,” said Noboa, who declared a 60-day state of emergency on Monday to grant security forces broad powers to combat organized crime, especially in prisons.
Several countries have lately expressed solidarity with Ecuador, denouncing narco-terrorism as a hemispheric scourge and offering military aid.
Riots erupted in several prisons in the country this week, with inmates taking 178 people hostage at seven facilities, according to the latest report issued Thursday by the nation’s jail management agency.
The hostages include 158 prison guards and 20 administrative officials at facilities in the southern provinces of El Oro, Canar, Loja, and Azuay, as well as in the northern province of Esmeraldas, and the central provinces of Cotopaxi and Tungurahua, the agency said.
The spate of violence, including an armed attack on a television station during a live broadcast, has claimed at least 10 lives and led to more than 70 arrests.