At least 44 inmates have been killed and ten others injured in a fight between rival gangs at a prison in Ecuador.

The outbreak of violence took place in the Bellavista detention center in the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, the Ecuadorian public prosecutor said on Twitter on Monday.

Numerous prisoners used the outbreak of violence to attempt to escape.

Fighting between gang members broke out early in the morning, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said.

The victims were "executed in the common rooms and cells" and then there was an "attempted mass escape" using firearms.

"The attackers acted with great brutality," said police chief Fausto Salinas.

Almost all of the victims were killed with knives.

112 prisoners were recaptured after an attempt to escape, 108 others are still on the run.

A total of 250 police officers, 200 soldiers and other reinforcements are deployed.

"This is the unfortunate result of gang violence," said Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso, who is currently on a state visit to Israel, on Twitter.

He expressed his condolences to the families of the dead.

Prisons are overburdened

Built for 1,200 prisoners, the Bellavista prison currently holds 1,700 people.

In the chronically overcrowded prisons of the South American country, there are always riots, which are often triggered by rival drug gangs.

Since February 2021, nearly 350 inmates have been killed in a series of bloody riots in Ecuador's prisons.

Located between the major drug producers Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is an important hub for drug smuggling to the United States and Europe.

In the country, the number of drug gangs and with them the violence is steadily increasing.

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