Ecuador in state of ‘internal armed conflict’ as gunmen storm TV studio

Ecuador: Ecuador’s president gave orders Tuesday to “neutralise” criminal gangs after gunmen opened fire in a TV studio and bandits threatened random executions on a second day of terror in the violence-riddled country.

At least 10 people have been killed in a series of attacks blamed on gangs as the country exploded in what President Daniel Noboa called an “internal armed conflict”. He gave orders to target criminal gangs after gangsters declared war following the prison escape Sunday of one of Ecuador’s most powerful narco bosses.

Eight people were killed and three were wounded in attacks in the port city of Guayaquil, and two officers were “viciously murdered by armed criminals” in the nearby town of Nobol, police said Tuesday evening.

It was a day like any other at the TC Television studio in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with its mid-afternoon newscast underway, when the masked gunmen burst in unleashing at least 15 minutes of threats and fear – all broadcast live

First a man with a pistol appeared in the middle of the public TV station’s live transmission followed by a second man with a shotgun, then a third and more. With the show’s “After the News” title behind them, station employees were brought onto the set and ordered to lie down. Screams could be heard followed by the sounds of gunshots.

Police officers entered the TV station and subdued the assailants, who can face up to 13 years in prison it they are convicted of terrorism.

On Monday, a day after a notorious gang leader’s apparent escape from prison, President Noboa had declared a national state of emergency, a measure that lets authorities suspend people’s rights and mobilize the military in places like prisons.

On Tuesday, shortly after the gunmen stormed the TV station, Noboa issued another decree designating 20 drug trafficking gangs operating in the country as terrorist groups and authorizing Ecuador’s military to “neutralize” them within the bounds of international humanitarian law.




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