9 dead in latest Ecuador prison riot: prosecutor's office
Soldiers stand guard outside the Pichincha 1 prison in Quito, on November 18, 2022. - The Ecuadorian Prosecutor's Office confirmed the death of at least nine inmates at the prison in the north of Quito. (Photo by Rodrigo BUENDIA / AFP)

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) -- At least nine people died Friday in the latest prison unrest to hit violence-stricken Ecuador, where some 400 inmates have been killed since last year, the prosecutor's office said.

The violence broke out at El Inca prison north of the capital Quito, the office said on Twitter, adding an operation was under way "for the removal of the bodies."

The announcement came just hours after the government said it was moving two inmates it suspected of being the masterminds behind previous prison disturbances to a maximum security prison.

One of the two, identified only as Bermudez, had been responsible for a previous massacre at El Inca, according to a presidency statement.

"We told them that our hand would not tremble," President Guillermo Lasso said of the transfer on Twitter Friday, warning of "the same fate for those who continue with their attempts to break the peace of Ecuadorans."

In other tweets, the president posted photographs of inmates with their hands tied and others lying face-down in prison courtyards and corridors.

Earlier this month, Lasso's government relocated some 2,400 inmates, triggering an uprising by gang members who went on shooting sprees and set off car bombs at gas stations and police stations.

Eight people, including five police members, were killed during the attacks in the port city of Guayaquil.

Since February 2021, Ecuador has experienced eight prison massacres that left about 400 dead, many of them beheaded or burned.

The last gang-led prison riot was on October 8 in Quito, when five inmates died.

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