At least six people have died and as many have been injured after gunmen opened fire at a restaurant in the tourist town of Montañita, Ecuador, the prosecutor’s office said on Sunday. An investigation is underway into this “armed attack in a restaurant in Montañita”, a seaside resort on the Pacific coast, he said on his Twitter account.
The killings took place on Saturday evening in a busy area of this coastal city. The prosecution has not yet specified the identity or age of the victims. “We heard the noise: bang, bang, bang and people were shouting: ‘Run, run, run, it’s gunshots!'” a woman who was in the neighborhood at the time told AFP. of the shooting and did not want to reveal his identity for fear of reprisals.
The worst escalation of violence in its history
This is the second massacre in a city on the country’s Pacific coast this week. On Thursday, gunmen entered a funeral parlor in the nearby port of Manta and opened fire on attendees of a wake, killing four and injuring eight, prosecutors said.
Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s largest cocaine producers, Ecuador is experiencing the worst escalation of violence in its recent history. Drug-related crime has caused the homicide rate to almost double between 2021 and 2022, from 14 to 25 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Conflicts between gangs and cartels
In mid-April, in the province of Esmeraldas, in the northwest of the country, on the border with Colombia, around thirty armed men opened fire in a fishing port, killing nine people. Two weeks later, gunmen fired on people watching a football match in a mechanic’s workshop, killing ten people and injuring three others, including a five-year-old girl.
Authorities attribute the violence to conflicts between gangs and cartels over control of trafficking routes along the Pacific, a strategic corridor for the flow of drugs to the United States and Europe.