More than 40 kidnapping victims rescued from Ecuador's Los Lobos gang, police say

QUITO (Reuters) -Ecuadorean police said on Thursday that 49 kidnapping victims were rescued from the Los Lobos crime gang in a mining region of the southern Azuay province.

An earlier statement by the armed forces had said 46 people were rescued and that another five people had been found killed, four of them dismembered.

Ecuador is struggling amid spiraling violent crime, prompting President Daniel Noboa several times to declare states of emergency - under which military forces patrol streets and jails. He has also designated 22 crime gangs as terrorist groups.

"Forty-nine citizens who were victims of kidnapping in mining areas of were released and two people linked to this crime were arrested," Ecuador's police said in a message posted on social media platform X.

More than 20 people opened fire on soldiers during the operation, Ecuador's army said in a message posted on X on Wednesday, though it added that no one had been hurt.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia in QuitoWriting by Oliver GriffinEditing by Andrew Heavens and Matthew Lewis)