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Clash in Ecuador prison leaves at least 15 dead and 20 injured

QUITO, Ecuador — A confrontation between prisoners armed with guns and knives inside the Latacunga prison in central Ecuador on Monday left at least 15 dead and 20 wounded, authorities said.

Authorities blamed the fighting on national and international drug trafficking groups that have turned the Andean nation’s prisons into the scene of repeated massacres as the groups fight for power and drug distribution rights.

Ecuador’s national prison service confirmed the death toll at the Latacunga prison, located 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital Quito. Agents are still searching the prison wards for bodies.

Videos were posted on social networks in which shots and screams from inmates can be heard.

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Some 316 inmates were killed inside Ecuador’s prisons last year, according to the prison service. So far this year there have been 90 deaths. The worst massacre occurred in September of last year in the Penal del Litoral de Guayaquil, where 125 prisoners were murdered.

Ecuador’s prison system is designed for about 30,000 people, but as of last month there were about 35,000 inmates in 53 state prisons.

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