Quito: Ecuador government officials have blamed a deadly explosion in the port city of Guayaquil that left five people dead and 26 injured as “organized crime”.
Ecuador’s interior minister called the Sunday blast a “declaration of war” by criminal gangs against the government.
The Andean country, which is used as a cocaine smuggling route from neighboring Peru and Colombia, has seen a sharp rise in murders and gang-related crime recently, the BBC reported.
A state of emergency has been declared in Guayaquil. It is the fourth emergency to be declared in Ecuador since October because of gang violence.
Eight houses and two cars were destroyed in the early morning blast, according to the National Risk and Emergency Management Service. Pictures from the scene show the front of houses ripped off and cars smeared in blood with their windows blown in, the BBC said.
At a news conference late Sunday, officials said the attack was directed at two men who go under the aliases of Cucaracha and Junior and are linked to Los Tiguerones, one of the leading crime gangs in Ecuador.
“Organized crime mercenaries, who have long drugged the economy, now attack with explosives,” Interior Minister Patrick Carrillo tweeted after the blast.
“It is a declaration of war on the state,” he said.