An angry mob burned alive two men and a woman Tuesday afternoon in a fishing community south of Guayaquil. According to police, who were overpowered by a crowd estimated at more than 100, the victims were mistakenly believed to be child kidnappers.
In a news conference following the killings, police explained that the men and woman were arrested Tuesday morning for allegedly robbing a woman in Posorja. “The robbery victim was accompanied by her three children and a rumor began to circulate that the crime was an attempt to kidnap the children,” a police spokesman said. “Rumors also circulated that the children were at the public school at the time and were drugged as part of the attempted kidnapping.”
The spokesman said that the children were not targets in the attempted robbery and were not harmed by the alleged thieves. “There was much confusion about the robbery and the result turned into tragedy.”
The robbery suspects were being detained at the police station awaiting transfer to Guayaquil when a crowd gathered outside, shouting “kill them, burn them,” according to police. The crowd grew through the afternoon, eventually breaking down doors and windows of the station and dragging the suspects outside.
According to witnesses, the suspects were stripped, beaten and set on fire by men wearing masks and shirts over their faces. The crowd also burned a taxi, police car and several motorcycles.
Soldiers from a nearby army base, who had been called to assist police, arrived minutes after the suspects had been killed.