QUITO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- At least 50 people died on Tuesday in three prison riots in Ecuador, according to a preliminary report by the National Police.
On its Twitter account, the police said the deaths occurred in social rehabilitation centers in the provinces of Guayas (southwest), Azuay (south) and Cotopaxi (central), "where the police are taking control (of the prisons)."
"At the moment forensics report more than 50 PPL (persons deprived of liberty) dead," the police said without providing more details.
The riots broke out on Tuesday morning due to power struggles between rival gangs, according to information released by police authorities, as uniformed police officers were sent to take control of the facilities.
Minister of Government Patricio Pazmino said via Twitter, the riots were due to "concerted actions by criminal organizations to generate violence in the country's prisons," therefore the Police Unified Command Post is taking action to regain control of the prisons.
The minister is holding meetings with the police high command to coordinate actions to ensure control of all prisons and prevent violent acts in the South American country.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno deplored the acts and said that the police was ordered to use progressive force "to guarantee the security of imprisoned citizens." Enditem