In a shocking turn of events, masked gunmen violently stormed a live television studio in Ecuador, causing panic among the terrified staff. The assailants broke into the public television channel TC’s studio in Guayaquil, forcing employees onto the floor during a live broadcast before the feed was abruptly cut.
Police swiftly responded, freeing all the staff and making 13 arrests. The attack occurred amid a 60-day state of emergency declared in Ecuador, following the mysterious disappearance of notorious gangster Adolfo Macías Villamar, also known as Fito. The incident at the TV studio is suspected to be linked to Fito’s escape from a prison in the same city.
The escalating violence prompted neighboring Peru to deploy police to its border, and the United States condemned the “brazen attacks,” expressing readiness to assist Ecuador. President Daniel Noboa labeled the situation as an “internal armed conflict” and mobilized the armed forces to combat “transnational organized crime, terrorist organizations, and belligerent non-state actors.”
During the TV station assault, gunmen with long-range guns, grenades, and dynamite threatened the captives, with one pointing a pump-action shotgun at a hostage’s head. The perpetrators attempted to gain access to the studio to manipulate the broadcast. Two employees were injured in the attack, including a cameraman who was shot in the leg.
In a separate incident, explosions and kidnappings occurred across Ecuador, with at least seven police officers abducted in various incidents. The violence prompted the government to declare 22 gangs, including the Choneros led by Fito, as terrorist organizations.
In response to the unfolding chaos, other South American nations, including Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, expressed support for Ecuador. China, a major investor in Ecuador, closed its embassy and consulates.
The situation led to an evacuation order for the government compound in Quito due to security concerns. Residents described cities like Quito and Cuenca as experiencing chaos, with increased nervousness and early departures from work.
This wave of violence comes amid a backdrop of recent prison riots, escapes, and acts of violence attributed to criminal gangs. Ecuador, known for being a major banana exporter, has seen a surge in violence linked to drug cartels vying for control of cocaine routes to the US and Europe.
The attack on the TV station has raised concerns about the security situation in Ecuador, with citizens shocked at the unprecedented hijacking of a television channel. The government’s efforts to curb violence face challenges, and President Noboa’s plan to build a new high-security prison for gang leaders has triggered heightened tensions.
As the country grapples with internal strife, the international community watches closely, emphasizing the need for stability and concerted efforts to address the root causes of the escalating violence.