Five people died and 16 were injured in an explosion in the Ecuadoran port city of Guayaquil on Sunday, an attack that the government blamed on organized crime, officials said.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said organized-crime mercenaries, long involved in illicit drug traffic, were now attacking with explosives. Carrillo said on Twitter that it was a declaration of war against the state.
Eight houses and two cars were destroyed in the blast in Guayaquil, the country's second largest city, according to the Secretariat for Risk Management.
A few other details were not immediately available.
Ecuador is facing a drug-fueled crime wave that has resulted in scenes of horror, including decapitated bodies hanging from bridges, between Colombia and Peru, the world's two largest producers of cocaine.
At least 400 people have been killed since February 2021 due to rival drug gangs' clashes and massacres in Ecuador's prisons.
Carrillo said that society will pay an even higher price if we confront it organized crime together.
According to the latest United Nations figures, Ecuador was responsible for 6.5 per cent of the total amount of cocaine seized in the world in 2020.
Last year, the nation of 18 million saw its murder rate - 14 homicides per 100,000 people - soar to nearly twice the 2020 rate.