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Armed attack in Ecuador leaves six dead

An armed attack at a restaurant on Ecuador’s coast left six people dead and half a dozen wounded on Saturday night, local authorities said.

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The incident occurred in the town of Montanita, a famous surfing beach in the province of Santa Elena on Ecuador’s central coast.

Eyewitness video showed police officers guarding the crime scene early Sunday morning.

The witness told Reuters the attack happened at about 9 p.m. on Saturday, as hundreds of tourists visited the area.

Several criminal groups are vying for control of drug trafficking routes and other crimes, such as fuel theft and kidnappings in the Santa Elena region.

The Ecuadorean government declared a state of emergency in early April in the Guayaquil region and surrounding areas in an effort to curb surging violence in the Pacific port city.

The South American country recently authorized civilians to carry and use guns for personal defense amid an increase in crime that the government has blamed on drug trafficking gangs.

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