Ecuador Enters “Internal Armed Conflict” as Masked Gunmen Storm Live TV Broadcast

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador – Masked men armed with pistols and what appeared to be sticks of dynamite stormed the set of a public television channel in Ecuador during a live broadcast on Tuesday. The president of Ecuador, Daniel Noboa, responded by declaring that the country had entered an “internal armed conflict.” It remains unclear who orchestrated the attack or the recent series of incidents that have shaken the South American nation. These incidents follow the apparent escapes from prison of two of Ecuador’s most powerful drug gang leaders.

During the live news program on the TC Television network, the armed men entered the studio in Guayaquil, shouting that they had bombs and firing what sounded like gunshots. Alina Manrique, the head of news for TC Television, described her shock at the event, where one of the intruders pointed a gun at her head. The incident was aired live, but the station’s signal was cut off after about 15 minutes. Some of the assailants attempted to hide when they realized they were surrounded by police.

In response to the attacks, President Noboa issued a decree designating 20 drug trafficking gangs operating in Ecuador as terrorist groups. The decree authorized the military to “neutralize” these groups within the bounds of international humanitarian law. Ecuador’s national police chief announced that all the masked intruders had been arrested, and police seized the weapons and explosives they had with them. Thirteen people were taken into custody.

Ecuador has experienced a series of attacks and abductions in recent days, following the apparent escapes of gang leaders Adolfo Macías and Fabricio Colon Pico from prison. The government declared a state of emergency, allowing authorities to suspend people’s rights and mobilize the military. Los Choneros, one of the gangs responsible for the spike in violence tied to drug trafficking, has links to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. Authorities have not confirmed the whereabouts of Macías or whether he escaped the facility.

President Noboa expressed his commitment to restoring peace in Ecuador and confronting crime. States of emergency have been used in the past to address violence in the country. Notably, gang members exert considerable control within Ecuador’s prisons, and it is believed that Macías continued to lead his group from behind bars. The country has been plagued by violence and territorial disputes between rival drug trafficking groups, resulting in numerous deaths within detention facilities.

As investigations continue, Ecuador seeks to restore stability and combat the influence of powerful criminal organizations. The recent attacks on the TC Television network highlight the urgent need for security and assertive measures to address the ongoing violence in the country.