Ecuadorean authorities said at least 68 prisoners died and dozens more were injured in nighttime violence at the Penitencia del Littoral prison, during what officials described as a fight between rival gangs.
The prison is located in the southern city of Guayaquil, the same prison where 119 inmates were killed in late September in the country’s worst ever violent incident.
Local media quoted the police as saying that the clashes broke out on Friday evening, and a rifle, two pistols and 10 sticks of dynamite were seized during a police operation.
The government said that by Saturday night, further unrest in the prison had been brought under control in the afternoon, adding that it would meet with rights groups and the United Nations to deal with the situation.
The government has blamed the violence on struggles between drug-trafficking gangs for control of prisons.
Dozens gathered outside the prison waiting for news of their relatives, many of whom said they had not heard from them since Friday afternoon.
President Guillermo Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency in the country’s prison network in September, allocating government funding and allowing the military to help control prisons.
On Saturday, the president called on the Constitutional Court to allow the army into prisons instead of only providing external security.
The court responded – in a statement – that resolving the prison crisis requires more than temporary emergency measures.