Gunmen storm Ecuador TV station after president declares state of emergency
President Daniel Noboa said countrywide unrest is an “internal armed conflict."
Armed and masked gunmen stormed a television station in Ecuador during a live broadcast on Tuesday, taking the hosts hostage and calling for President Daniel Noboa to end his crackdown on organized crime.
The incident at TC Televisión, a state-owned network in Guayaquil, came amid widespread chaos and violence after Noboa declared a countrywide state of emergency on Monday.
The men who stormed the television station were arrested after a standoff with police.
Noboa called the unrest an "internal armed conflict," saying the alleged perpetrators were "terrorists." He deployed armed forces throughout the country to "establish control," his office said in a post on X.
Noboa, who was elected last fall, had promised the public he'd make security and economic issues his priorities.
The state of emergency followed reports of a prison escape by José Adolfo Macías Villamar, known as "Fito," an alleged leader of the Los Choneros gang, which is alleged to have ties to the Sinaloa cartel.
He had been convicted on charges including drug trafficking and homicide in 2011 and was being held in a high-security prison in Guyaquil.
More than 3,000 police officers have been mobilized to arrest him, officials said.
At least 29 buildings were attacked Tuesday in Guayaquil, officials told ABC News. Eight people were killed in the city and three others were injured, officials said.
A total of 10 people were killed Tuesday, including the eight in Guyaquil, according to authorities. Seven police officers who were kidnapped have not been released, officials said.
Police have set up checkpoints in Quito and Guayaquil to identify and detain possible gang members, officials told ABC News.
The chaos throughout the country has been the work of organized criminal networks, Admiral Jaime Vela Erazo, head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, said in a news conference late Tuesday.
"But despite his brutal evil, this attempt will fail," he said.
Erazo said the government had no plans to "back down" by negotiating with the gangs behind the unrest.
In one incident at the University of Guayaquil, crowds of people who were not believed to be gang members entered the university. There were no major injuries from the incident, and there is no longer an ongoing hostage situation at the university, officials said.
Classes are suspended at the university until further notice, the mayor of Guayaquil told ABC News.
A curfew was put in place Tuesday night, beginning at 11 p.m. and lifting at 5 a.m.
Neighoring Peru also declared a state of emergency along its border with Ecuador. Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said the army, national police and members of the intelligence community would be active along the border.
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