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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Sixty-two inmates have died in riots at prisons in three cities in Ecuador as a result of fights between rival gangs and an escape attempt, authorities said Tuesday.

Prisons Director Edmundo Moncayo said in a news conference that 800 police offices have been helping to regain control of the facilities.

Hundreds of officers from tactical units had been deployed since the clashes broke out late Monday.

Moncayo said that two groups were trying to gain “criminal leadership within the detention centers” and that the clashes were precipitated by a search for weapons carried out Monday by police officers.

Moncayo said 33 died at the prison in Cuenca in southern Ecuador, 21 in the Pacific coast city of Guayaquil and eight in the central city of Latacunga.

Moncayo said that close to 70% of the country’s prison population lives in the centers where the unrest occurred.

Minister of Government Patricio Pazmiño sent a tweet blaming “the concerted action of criminal organizations to generate violence in the country’s prisons," but added, "We are managing actions to regain control.”

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Southeastern Iran reports internet disruption following anti-government protests

The southeastern region of Iran on Saturday reported internet disruptions following demonstrations against Monday’s fatal border shootings, AP reports.

The big picture: Iran has a history of suppressing freedom of speech, association and assembly, according to Amnesty International. Internet blackouts are now common around the world when power hangs in the balance, Axios’ Dave Lawler and Sara Fischer write.

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Details: The Iranian government shut down the mobile data network in Sistan and Baluchestan — where the vast majority of the population accesses the internet by phone — for three days starting Wednesday. Residents said the internet had been restored by early Saturday, per AP.

What they’re saying: “This is Iran’s traditional response to any kind of protest … Shutting down the internet to block news and pictures getting out makes (authorities) feel more comfortable opening fire,” Amir Rashidi from Miaan Group, a human rights organization focused on digital security in the Middle East, told AP.

Context: Protests in the southeast region earlier this week “over the shootings of fuel smugglers trying to cross back into Iran from Pakistan on Monday” left at least two people dead, AP writes.

  • There are still no official reports of how many people have been killed or injured by law enforcement, according to Iran Human Rights Monitor, a group dedicated to calling attention to human rights violations in Iran.

Flashback: Iranian authorities in 2019 implemented a near-total internet shutdown during protests to prevent people from sharing images and videos of the lethal force used by law enforcement against anti-government demonstrators who were protesting a rise in fuel prices, per Amnesty International.

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