Masked gunmen broke into a live television studio in Ecuador, threatening the staff. During a live broadcast by the public television channel TC in Guayaquil, staff members were forced to lie down on the floor, just before the broadcast was abruptly terminated.
The live broadcast was interrupted, and police later reported freeing the staff and arresting 13 individuals. Two employees were reported injured.
A surge in violence has followed the declaration of a 60-day state of emergency in Ecuador since Monday, resulting in at least 10 deaths.
The emergency declaration coincides with the mysterious disappearance of notorious gangster Adolfo Macías Villamar, also known as Fito, from a prison cell in Guayaquil.
The connection between Fito’s disappearance and the TV studio incident in Guayaquil, where Fito was imprisoned, remains uncertain.
Peru’s government has responded by deploying police forces to the border to prevent the spread of instability.
The United States has condemned the attacks in Ecuador, offering coordination and assistance to President Daniel Noboa and the Ecuadorean government.
Ecuador, a major exporter of bananas, oil, coffee, cocoa, shrimps, and fish products, faces increasing violence linked to drug cartel battles over cocaine routes to the US and Europe.
In the TV station attack, a gunman menacingly aimed a pump-action shotgun at a captive’s head, while others threatened with a revolver.
A woman’s plea of “Don’t shoot, please don’t shoot,” was reported by the AFP news agency, alongside screams of pain.
It has been reported that a cameraman was shot in the leg, and another employee has a broken arm.
Police, showcasing the arrested suspects and their weapons on social media, vowed to punish them for terrorism.
President Noboa, addressing recent prison riots and violence, declared an “internal armed conflict” and mobilized the military against organized crime and non-state actors.
His decree targets 22 criminal gangs, including the Choneros, and builds on the state of emergency to curb violence following Fito’s escape.
Following Fito’s escape, violence escalated with eight deaths and three injuries in Guayaquil, and two police officers killed in Nobol.
Riobamba witnessed a prison break involving 40 inmates, including a convicted drug lord.
At least seven police officers were abducted, and a video circulating on social media depicts three of these officers seated on the ground, with a firearm aimed at them.
In recent years, the nation’s prisons have experienced a surge in violent conflicts among incarcerated members of opposing gangs, frequently leading to numerous inmate massacres.
The Choneros gang, involved in prison riots, is linked to the recent violence in Ecuador’s jails.
Fito’s escape, just before a planned transfer, implicates two detained prison guards and signifies a setback for President Noboa’s government.