A car bomb, believed to be loaded with two gas cylinders and dynamite sticks, caused multiple explosions in a commercial area of Quito on Wednesday night. The event is generating concern due to the ongoing climate of violence in Ecuador.
Initially, the Ecuadorian National Police stated that it was a fire in a vehicle. However, General Pablo Ramirez later informed journalists that it was a presumed attack due to the explosive elements in the car bomb. Fortunately, the explosions did not result in any casualties.
Six individuals, including five Ecuadorians and a Colombian, have been arrested for their suspected involvement in the car bomb attack. Some of them have previous records for crimes such as robbery, extortion, and murder. Both the car that exploded and the vehicle used by the detainees had been reported as stolen.
General Ramirez attributed the attack to organized crime in response to a series of prisoner transfers that occurred on the same day.
The Municipality of Quito stated on social media that the incident is currently under investigation by specialized police units. The Explosives team of the Intervention and Rescue Group (GIR) is on site to determine the circumstances of the explosion.
Images from the scene show a burnt car and a nearby cylinder that is believed to be a gas cylinder.
Last year, there were several car bomb explosions in the port city of Guayaquil, leading some to speculate that this could be a similar attack in the capital city of Quito.
Unofficial sources suggest that the attack may be related to the transfer of a criminal leader known as Gordo Luis to a maximum security prison. He is believed to be the leader of the Los Lobos gang, which has connections to the Nueva Generación cartel allied with the Jalisco cartel in Mexico.
The area where the car exploded used to be the headquarters of the National Service of Integral Attention (SNAI) to Persons Deprived of Liberty, responsible for prison control and custody.
The incident occurred shortly after the police reported results of a search conducted in Latacunga prison. The search was part of prison intervention operations to control arms and explosives. Over 2,200 police and military officers participated in the search, which led to the discovery of prohibited items such as sharp weapons, alcohol, and electronic equipment.
The military and police intervention in the Cotopaxi prison resulted in riots in other prisons controlled by the Los Lobos gang.