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In response to three massacres that resulted in the deaths of 17 people and injuries to dozens more, Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa declared an internal armed conflict on January 9. The Attorney General’s Office warned of attempts by criminal organizations to destabilize the country and obstruct ongoing investigations. The state of emergency was originally imposed for 60 days in January but was extended for an additional 30 days on March 8, with no decision yet on whether it will be extended further on April 8.

Ecuador has been plagued with a surge in violence since January, despite efforts by the government to combat gangs and terrorists through militarized streets. Between January and March, the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police reported an increase in extortions and kidnappings, especially in Guayaquil where cases quadrupled. This escalation of violence culminated in three massacres over the weekend, including an attack on Ecuadorian tourists in Manabi province and two separate incidents in Guayaquil.

The first massacre involved six adults and five children kidnapped and killed by attackers who mistakenly targeted tourists instead of rival gang members. One survivor was rescued by police. The second incident resulted in nine deaths while the third left at least three dead and injured three others in Guayaquil city. Authorities have made arrests in connection with these crimes, seizing weapons from suspects linked to criminal organizations. However, despite government efforts to combat crime, challenges remain in addressing structural corruption within Ecuador’s security forces.

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