133 hostages, including 55 in Cuenca, are rescued as police and military retake control of the prisons

Jan 14, 2024 | 0 comments

In a Saturday night operation, Ecuador National Police and military troops rescued 133 hostages held for six days in seven national prisons. President Daniel Noboa announced the success of the operation in a short video message and said prisons in Azuay, Cañar, Esmeraldas, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, El Oro and Loja Provinces were back under government control.

Soldiers check inmates for weapons at the Turi penitentiary following the Saturday night raid that freed 55 hostages.

“Congratulations to the professional and courageous members of the Armed Forces and National Police as well as prison personnel for achieving the release of the hostages,” he said, praising Interior Minister Mónica Palencia and Defense Minister Giancarlo Lodofredo for coordinating the raids.

He added: “All the hostages have been released alive and now we can continue to execute Plan Fénix to restore order to Ecuador.”

Police and the Interior Ministry released little information about the operation except to say that large quantities of firearms and knives, as well as explosives, drugs and liquor, were seized during searches following the raids.

There were no reports of violent confrontations between prisoners and authorities during the operations. Before police and soldiers took control of the prisons, at least two hostages were reported killed, but their names and prison locations have not been disclosed.

Police reported that they defused several explosive devices tied to LP gas cannisters at the Machala prison and extinguished small fires at entrances to the Esmeraldas prison.

In Cuenca, Mayor Cristian Zamora said all hostages, 47 guards and eight kitchen staff, had been released from Turi prison. Following brief reunions with family members, the former hostages were taken to two local hospitals for medical treatment and check-ups.

During the raid on the Turi prison, Cuenca’s ECU911 emergency call center reported receiving an “overwhelming quantity of calls” from south Cuenca residents frightened by the large number of helicopter overflights and arial spotlights. Earlier, several troop transport aircraft landed at the airport, delivering hundreds of soldiers who participated in the prison operation.

Following the raid, ECU911 received more calls regarding explosions that were determined to be fireworks celebrating the rescue mission.


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