ECUADOR – Ecuador’s President, Daniel Noboa, has declared an “internal armed conflict” in the country, ordering security forces to “neutralise” several criminal groups accused of spreading extreme violence in the Latin American nation.
BBC reported that the decree came shortly after hooded and armed men interrupted a live television broadcast – one of several violent incidents playing out across the country on Tuesday.
Ecuadorians were stunned as they watched the takeover of TC Television’s live broadcast from the coastal city of Guayaquil.
Social media video showed the assailants forcing staff of the state-owned network onto the floor of the studio as shots and yelling were heard in the background.
Ecuador’s police later said they had arrested all the armed men, members of the media outlet had been evacuated, and all staff and hostages were alive.
At least four firearms, two grenades, and “explosive material” were recovered and 13 people apprehended, César Zapata, General Commander of the National Police said.
The perpetrators would be brought to justice for their “acts of terrorism,” he added.
TC Television anchor Jorge Rendon described the takeover of the broadcast as an “extremely violent attack.”
“They wanted to enter the studio so that we could say what they wanted, I guess their message,” Rendon recalled in a video on TC Television’s official X account. Rendon said he knew of one person being shot and another injured by the assailants. Police had not confirmed those injuries.
The situation had struck fear among many Ecuadorians.
The country has been rocked by explosions, police kidnappings, and prison disturbances since Noboa on Monday declared a nationwide state of emergency after high-profile gang leader Adolfo “Fito” Macias escaped from a prison in Guayaquil.
Ecuador is “living a real nightmare,” former President Rafael Correa said in a video shared on X Tuesday.
The situation was “the result of the systematic destruction of the rule of law, of the errors of hatred accumulated over the last seven years,” he claimed.
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