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Gunmen break into Ecuador live TV studio

A group of hooded gunmen have broken into a television studio in Ecuador during a live broadcast, physically and verbally threatening staff.


The gunmen were carrying pistols, shotguns and homemade bombs when they broke into the headquarters of TC Televisión in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city.


Online footage showed the masked men pointing weapons at employees in a studio, before El Noticiero’s live broadcast was sharply cut off after more than 15 minutes. The news host was shown trying to reconcile with the gunmen, evidently pleading and clasping his hands together before one gang member held a gun to the host’s head. Whilst the channel was live, the employees were seen being forced onto the ground, and someone was heard shouting: “Don’t shoot!”


El Universo newspaper commented that reporters and production crew on the live programme sent panicked messages on group chats, with pleas for help as the hooded gangsters stormed around the building. One message said: “They want to kill the lot of us. Help us”.


Ecuador’s police force announced on X, formerly Twitter, that some national police units in Guayaquil and Quito were deployed to the studios to handle the situation, and that some staff had been evacuated from the scene.


Police entered headquarters around 30 minutes after the gang were spotted. It is known that police arrested 13 people after the attack happened, in which two station employees were injured.


 



Adolfo "Fito" Macías, leader of Los Chonerois in a prison transfer before his escape. Photo: El Pais


 


The incident happened after a 60 day state of emergency was declared in Ecuador after a guilty gang leader escaped from his prison cell. The leader of the gang Los Choneros, Adolfo Macías, going by the nickname “Fito”, had been found absent from his cell in a Guayaquil maximum security prison. The Ecuadorian authorities had not been able to find a reason for his disappearance. The prosecutor’s office of Ecuador posted a tweet on Monday that they had pressed charges against two of the prison guards who were suggested to be a part of the “prisoner’s escape”.


On Tuesday, almost 40 convicts similarly escaped from a prison in Riobamba. It is undetermined at the moment whether this breakout was linked to the subsequent attack on the El Noticiero live broadcast causing it to be cut off. The two escapes signal the turbulence of the country’s current security situation. After the storming incident, President Daniel Noboa declared that the country was experiencing an internal war and described several Ecuadorian gangs as “non-state actors” and “terrorist organisations”. Noboa has even called for the military to contribute to the country’s increased security plan, including within prisons.


In a matter of hours since the state of emergency was issued, the country has seen an ensuing state of terrorised chaos, instigated by gang members. These attacks have ensured that no less than 7 police officers have been taken hostage and threatened with detonated bombs, and several prison guards have similarly been kidnapped. At this stage, no less than 10 people have been killed.


President Noboa posted a statement on social media saying: “In response, these supposed narcoterrorist groups try to threaten us and believe that we will give in to their demands”. The president has floated the idea of a referendum initiating measures to prevent crime escalation, including the extension of prison sentences and taking prisoner’s assets away from them.


 


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Tags: #livebroadcast #elnoticiero #gangthreats #loschoneros #ecuadorlivebroadcast #ecuadorgangs #adolfomacias #tctelevision #gunmen



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