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5 tourists killed in case of mistaken identity in Ecuador while 9 shot dead is separate attack:

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Ecuadoran gangsters abducted, interrogated and killed five tourists, apparently thinking they were members of a rival drug gang, officials said this weekend, while a separate attack by gunmen killed nine people on the country’s coast.

Around 20 attackers stormed a hotel Friday in the beach town of Ayampe in southern Ecuador and kidnapped six adults and a child, local police commander Richard Vaca said.

The abducted tourists, all Ecuadorans, were interrogated and hours later the bodies of five adults were found with gunshot wounds on a road, he said.

The assailants “apparently mistook them for adversaries” from a rival drug gang, said Vaca.

President Daniel Noboa said one person has been arrested so far in the case and the government is tracking down the rest of the attackers.

The killings “remind us that the battle continues,” Noboa said on social media, along with a video of a man handcuffed and bent over, being led away forcefully by an armed police officer.

“Narcoterrorism and its allies are looking for spaces to scare us, but they will not succeed,” Noboa said.

Meanwhile, gunmen attacked a group of people in Ecuador’s coastal city of Guayaquil killing nine and injuring 10 others, police said Sunday.

The attack took place around 7 p.m. local time Saturday in the southern neighborhood of Guasmo. According to police, the armed group entered a pedestrian street in a grey Chevrolet Spark, where a group of people were practicing sports. The gunmen got out of the vehicle and proceeded to shoot people.

“So far, the result is nine people dead and 10 injured,” police Col. Ramiro Arequipa told journalists around midday on Sunday.

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A woman gestures while waiting for the body of one of the victims of the eve shooting at a cooperative, outside the Crime and Forensic Sciences Laboratory, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on March 31, 2024. 

GERARDO MENOSCAL/AFP via Getty Images


No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ecuador was once considered a bastion of peace in Latin America, but in recent years has seen a surge in violent attacks.

Noboa declared a state of emergency in January, which provides for permanent operations by a security force made up of police and military. In addition, a five-hour curfew is in force in high-incidence areas such as Guayaquil.

That month, Noboa also gave orders to “neutralize” criminal gangs after gunmen stormed and opened fire in a TV studio and bandits threatened random executions of civilians and security forces.

Since then, the military has been deployed in the streets and taken control of the country’s prisons, where a string of gang riots in recent years has left hundreds killed.

The violence has continued since the state of emergency.

Just last week, the 27-year-old mayor of a small town – also in the province of Manabi – was killed along with her collaborator. Brigitte Garcia and Jairo Loor were found inside a vehicle with gunshot wounds.

One of Garcia’s last posts on social media, where she touts herself as the nation’s youngest mayor, was about a new project to bring water to her municipality.

“Together, we’re building a brighter future for our community,” she wrote.

On Thursday, a riot in a Guayaquil prison under military and police control left three inmates dead and four injured.

Ecuador surpassed a rate of 40 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants at the end of 2023, one of the highest in the region, according to police.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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