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Ecuadorian authorities arrested a suspect connected to a deadly weekend blast in the port city of Guayaquil, an explosion that marked an escalation of gang violence in the South American country, Agence France-Presse reported this week.
On Sunday, five people died and 17 others were injured when two individuals on a motorcycle threw a bag of explosives into a restaurant in the Cristo del Consuelo district of the port city.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said the suspect “admitted to being involved in the terrorist attack” in the district.
The explosion rocked the country, prompting President Guillermo Lasso to declare a 30-day emergency in the city.
The recent attack underscores the ongoing problem of organized crime and drug trafficking in Ecuador, a country sandwiched between two of the world’s largest cocaine producers, Colombia and Peru.
According to United Nations data, Ecuador accounted for 6.5 percent of the cocaine captured worldwide in 2020. Feuding between rival gangs has reached the country’s prisons and has left more than 400 dead since February 2021.
Guayaquil has been particularly affected: The city experienced 72 of 145 explosive-related attacks in Ecuador this year, according to the government.
The city, which is also the home to the country’s main port, serves as a crucial hub for drug trafficking from Peru and Colombia.