(Quito) Fresh clashes in a prison in Ecuador, where six inmates were found hanged this week and three guards killed, left at least 12 prisoners dead on Friday, the prosecution said on Saturday.

“An investigation has been opened to identify those responsible for the deaths of 12 inmates of the Littoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil,” the prosecution said on Twitter.

Six detainees were found hanged on Wednesday in this prison in Guayaquil, a large port city in southwestern Ecuador plagued by violence linked to drug trafficking.

The next day, three prison guards were killed while they were outside this penitentiary complex in Guyaquil. And on Friday, at least three prisoners were injured in gun battles at the same prison.

Ecuadorian prisons are the scene of recurrent massacres between prisoners, against a backdrop of rivalry between criminal groups fighting over drug trafficking.

Since February 2021, eight massacres have been recorded in these prisons, with more than 400 prisoners killed, most of them dismembered and burned.

The country’s main port on the Pacific coast, Guayaquil has in recent years become the hub and epicenter of drug trafficking in Ecuador, located between Colombia and Peru – the world’s main cocaine producers.