GUAYAQUIL (AFP): At least 10 people were killed in an armed attack overnight in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s main port city and economic hub that is under a state of emergency due to rising drug violence, police said Sunday.
The gruesome attack, which one witness described as a shooting, occurred at a mechanic shop in the city’s southwest. Bodies could be seen lying on the sidewalk in pools of blood, as people cried and hugged one another while police cordoned off the area, AFP saw.
Ecuador’s attorney general’s office said on Twitter that it had opened a “preliminary investigation into the murder of 10 people, following an armed attack on Saturday night…. Two other people are wounded.”
Local police also confirmed the death toll in Guayaquil, which has become one of the country’s increasingly bloody centers of a turf war between rival drug-trafficking gangs.
The port city’s position on the Pacific coast makes it a strategic launch point for shipments of drugs to the United States and Europe.
The killing is the latest in a recent surge of violence, including gang- and cartel-related murders and multiple prison riots and massacres, as authorities crack down on gangs and seize drugs.
One witness to the latest attack, who asked not to be identified, told AFP that “there was a shooting” at a location where several people had been drinking when a group of assailants “on motorcycles came and ended the lives of those who were here.”
Police had yet to report any arrests.
Since April 1, Guayaquil has been under a state of emergency, which allows the military to mobilize on the streets and implement curfews.