In a shocking incident, masked gunmen stormed a live television studio in Guayaquil, Ecuador, threatening staff and causing panic. The attack occurred during a broadcast by the public television channel TC. The assailants, armed with shotguns and revolvers, forced employees onto the floor before the live feed abruptly cut off.
Dramatic Events Unfold
- Assault Details: During the attack, one gunman reportedly pointed a pump-action shotgun at a captive’s head, while another threatened with a revolver. A woman’s plea to avoid violence could be heard, and screams added to the distressing scene.
- Injuries: Two TC employees suffered injuries, with one cameraman shot in the leg and another sustaining a broken arm during the assault.
- Capture and Response: Law enforcement later freed all the staff, detaining 13 individuals involved in the attack. Police surrounded the TV station, emphasizing that the perpetrators would face punishment for their “terrorist acts.”
Context: State of Emergency
- State of Emergency: Ecuador declared a 60-day state of emergency following the disappearance of Adolfo Macías Villamar, aka Fito, the leader of the Choneros gang, from prison. The TV station incident occurred in the midst of heightened security measures and ongoing violence.
- President’s Response: President Daniel Noboa declared an “internal armed conflict” in the country, mobilizing the armed forces to combat “transnational organized crime, terrorist organizations, and belligerent non-state actors.”
Escalating Violence and Kidnappings
- Recent Attacks: A wave of violence, including jail riots, escapes, and gang-related incidents, prompted the state of emergency. Eight people were killed in Guayaquil, and two police officers lost their lives in Nobol, a nearby town, in attacks attributed to criminal gangs.
- Kidnappings: In Riobamba, around 40 inmates, including a convicted drug lord, escaped from prison. Additionally, seven police officers were kidnapped, issuing threats in a video circulated on social media.
National and International Response
- US Condemnation: The US condemned the “brazen attacks” and expressed readiness to assist Ecuador. The government is coordinating closely with President Noboa to address the security challenges.
- Cross-Border Measures: In neighboring Peru, authorities deployed a police force to the border to prevent potential instability spilling into the country.
Public Reaction and Security Concerns
- City in Chaos: Residents reported chaos in Quito, with nervousness prevailing and people leaving work early due to heightened security concerns. The attack on the TV station raised questions about the overall security situation in the country.
- Unprecedented Situation: Ecuadorians expressed shock at the unprecedented incident, emphasizing concerns about the security of public spaces beyond prisons.
Background: Gang Violence and Prison Feuds
- Drug Cartel Conflict: The surge in violence in Ecuador is linked to conflicts between drug cartels, both local and foreign, vying for control of cocaine routes to the US and Europe.
- Gang Feuds: The Choneros gang, notorious for prison violence, has been at the center of numerous clashes. Fito’s escape and subsequent events underscore the challenges Ecuador faces in managing internal security.
Note: The unfolding situation highlights the complex interplay of criminal activities, gang rivalries, and the government’s efforts to restore order during a turbulent period.