Emergency declaration sparks explosions and kidnappings in major cities, including Cuenca

Jan 9, 2024 | 0 comments

Angered by President Daniel Noboa’s state of emergency declaration, criminal gang members set off explosions and burned cars in several cities, including Cuenca, on Monday night. In Quito and Machala, police officers were kidnapped.

Police investigation an explosion Monday night on Cuenca’s southside.

“This response was expected and we should be prepared for more,” said Government Communication Secretary Roberto Izurieta. “The uprisings in the prisons and the reaction to the emergency order are a result of President Noboa’s decision to retake control of the national prisons and his plan to isolate gang and cartel leaders in high-security facilities.”

Large explosions were reported in Quito, Guayaquil and Esmeraldas, with smaller ones in Manta, Loja and Cuenca. Early Tuesday, the National Police command said the explosions caused property damage but no deaths or injuries.

Three police officers were kidnapped in Machala and one in Quito, with captors demanding that the government end plans to transfer criminals.

Explosions causing significant damage were reported in Quito and Esmeraldas, where explosions occurred at gas stations. In the Valle de Chillos, east of Quito, an explosion caused extensive damage to a pedestrian bridge over the General Rumiñahui Highway.

In Cuenca, what were described as “small but dangerous” explosive devices were set off on a street median in the Yanuncay parish and in a garbage can on Av. Primero de Mayo Avenue near Av. de las Américas. Another explosion was reported in suburban El Valle, southeast of Cuenca.

At least two incidents were reported in Azogues, 24 kilometers north of Cuenca. In one case, a transport truck carrying new cars was set on fire.

According to retired Cuenca police commander Klever Castro, Monday night’s violence is based on the fear that Noboa is planning to isolate gang leaders serving prison terms. “The word on the street is that there will be a Bukele-style round-up of gang members and that communication between the bosses and their underlings will be stopped,” says Castro, referring to El Salvador President Nayib Bukele who imprisoned thousands of gang members in his country.


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