NOn Tuesday, a group of armed men interrupted a live television program in Ecuador, adding another chapter to an already long wave of violence that is plaguing the country.

“I signed the executive decree declaring the Internal Armed Conflict”, reacted Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa, in a publication published on the social network X, formerly Twitter, guaranteeing that the country’s armed forces were mobilized to carry out “military operations to neutralize” o “transnational organized crime, terrorist organizations and non-state belligerent actors”. In the same note, he declared 22 gangs in the country as ‘terrorist organizations’.

The armed men took hostage the participants of the program on the public channel TC, broadcast from Guayaquil, and displayed, live, the arsenal they had with them: various weapons, grenades and even a stick of dynamite. The program’s presenter actually had a gun pointed at his head, while another person shouted: “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot”. Afterwards, the broadcast ended up being interrupted.

“Please, they came to kill us. God, don’t let this happen. The criminals are in the air”, read a WhatsApp message written by an employee of the television channel, cited by the AFP agency.

“Through our headsets, the producers said: ‘Be careful, they are trying to get in, they are stealing, they are robbing us’,” the channel’s deputy news director, Jorge Rendón, told Reuters news agency. “The studio doors are very thick, almost bulletproof, and they were trying to get in because they wanted access to the studio so we could say whatever they wanted,” he continued.

In the end, the police released the hostages and made 13 arrests, revealing to the television station that two workers were injured. A camera operator was shot in the leg and another broke his arm.

The Ecuadorian presidency shared, on social media, images of the military operation that led to the arrests.

USA, Argentina and Colombia ready to send aid

In addition to the Ecuadorian president’s official reaction, the United States, cited by the BBC, condemned the “brazen attacks” in the country, ensuring that they are “coordinating closely” with President Daniel Noboa, ready to “provide help”.

Argentina expressed “firm support” for the Ecuadorian authorities and people and offered to send “security forces, if necessary, to help” the country in a “continental issue”, while the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, said , on the social network X, that the country is attentive to “all the support that the Ecuadorian government requests”.

Also on Tuesday, the Peruvian government announced the imposition of a state of emergency along the entire 1,500-kilometer border with Ecuador and the dispatch of the armed forces to monitor the area together with the police.

Ecuador in a state of exception

In response to the escape from prison of the country’s biggest drug trafficking leader, José Adolfo Macías Salazar, better known as ‘Fito’, and an increase in the number of cases of violence, a state of exception was declared in Ecuador on Monday -fair. Since then, according to the BBC, at least 10 people have been killed – eight of them in violent attacks in Guayaquil and two, police officers, in Nobol, by “armed criminals”.

Around 3,000 security agents are on the streets, in an urgent search for Ecuador’s “most wanted prisoner”, who is allegedly the leader of the Los Choneros gang, one of the largest in the country.

After the escape, the country has recorded several episodes of violence, which include the kidnapping of at least seven police officers, an explosion near the home of the president of the National Court of Justice of Ecuador and fires in several cars. The authorities did not reveal, however, who was behind the attacks and whether or not they were part of an orchestrated action.

The BBC reveals, however, that it is still uncertain whether or not ‘Fito’s’ prison escape is related to the attack on Ecuadorian television in Guayaquil. In fact, the affiliation of the perpetrators of this act of violence is still not clear.

Read Also: Wave of violence leaves at least eight dead and three injured in Ecuador

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