WORLD NEWS

Ecuador declares ‘internal armed conflict’ as gunmen take over live TV broadcast

Jan 9, 2024, 5:20 PM | Updated: 5:23 pm

Ecuador’s TC Television live programming is interrupted by hooded and armed men. (CNN)...

Ecuador’s TC Television live programming is interrupted by hooded and armed men. (CNN)

(CNN)

Quito (CNN) Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa has declared an “internal armed conflict” in the country, ordering security forces to “neutralize” several criminal groups accused of spreading extreme violence in Ecuador.

The decree came shortly after hooded and armed men interrupted a live television broadcast – one of several violent incidents playing out across the country on Tuesday. Local media outlets also reported armed individuals at a hospital and a university in the city of Guayaquil.

Ecuadorians were stunned as they watched the takeover of the Guayaquil-based network’s live broadcast. The assailants were seen forcing the staff of TC Television onto the floor of the studio as shots and yelling were heard in the background, social media video showed of the incident at the state-owned network.

Ecuador’s police later said they had arrested all the armed men, members of the media outlet had been evacuated, and all staff and hostages of the network were alive. “We have 13 people detained,” a member of the police told local TV station Teleamazonas of the incident police described as an “act of terrorism.”

Soldiers are deployed in downtown Quito on January 9, a day after Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency. (Rodrigo Buend, Getty Images)

Soldiers are deployed in downtown Quito on January 9, a day after Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency. (Rodrigo Buend, Getty Images)

Police earlier had posted pictures of multiple individuals faced down with their hands zip-tied behind their backs.

The situation has struck fear among many Ecuadorians. One woman, who lives outside Guayaquil and was told to go home early by her boss, described the chaotic traffic on her drive home. “Cars were going the wrong way; everyone was just trying to get through,” she said.

“The scariest part was seeing the desperation, seeing businesses shutting down, desperate people, including children and women, running frantically in avenues only meant for cars.”

The country has been rocked by explosions, police kidnappings, and prison disturbances since Noboa on Monday declared a nationwide state of emergency after high-profile gang leader Adolfo “Fito” Macias escaped from a prison in Guayaquil.

The state of emergency will last for 60 days and mobilize the police and the armed forces to control disturbances to public order. It includes a curfew, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., to restrict meetings and actions that may threaten public order. Noboa’s beleaguered predecessor, former President Guillermo Lasso, instated several states of emergency with limited success.

Since it was announced, at least seven police agents have been kidnapped in three different cities, according to a post on X by the National Police.

The spiraling violence is the most extreme test yet for the new president, who won last year’s run-off vote with promises to tackle soaring crime.

The country’s worsening security situation is largely driven by rival criminal organizations, which have been meting out brutal and often public shows of violence in the country’s streets and prisons in their battle to control drug trafficking routes.

In one of the kidnappings this week, in which three agents were taken, an explosive device had been “placed and detonated” in a vehicle the officers were moving in, police said.

In Esmeraldas, in the northwest of the country, two vehicles were set on fire with one causing a blaze at a gas station.

In the capital Quito, the police found a burned vehicle with traces of gas cylinders inside. Residents reported on social media that they had heard a loud explosion in the area.

Police also said they had received reports of an explosion at a pedestrian bridge outside Quito and attended “over 20 emergencies during (Monday) evening and overnight (Tuesday) in different parts of the country. There are currently no known casualties related to the explosions.

Prison chaos

Ecuador’s penitentiary service, the SNAI, said that at least six incidents took place inside prison facilities Monday, including disturbances and retention of penitentiary agents. This situation in the prisons, they say, has not been controlled.

Meanwhile, another alleged gang leader, Fabricio Colon Pico, escaped from a prison in Riobamba in the last few hours, according to the city’s mayor Jhon Vinueza.

Colon Pico had been captured last Friday after being publicly identified by Ecuador’s Attorney General Diana Salazar as being part of a plan to attack her. Along with Colon Pico, 38 other inmates escaped, of which 12 have been recaptured, the SNAI told CNN.

Ecuador’s Armed Forces said they carried out control operations Monday night and early Tuesday in the most conflict-ridden areas.

On the political side, Ecuador’s National Assembly is holding an emergency meeting to “generate concrete actions in face of the national commotion and multiple acts that threaten public peace.”

The search for Adolfo Macias, more popularly known by his alias “Fito,” continued as more than 3,000 police officers and members of the armed forces have been deployed to find him, the government said on Sunday. Ecuador authorities said they have not yet pinpointed the exact time and date that Macias escaped prison.

Macías is the leader of Los Choneros, one of Ecuador’s most feared gangs, which has been linked to maritime drug trafficking to Mexico and the US in coordination with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and the Oliver Sinisterra Front in Colombia, according to the Insight Crime research center.

He was jailed after being convicted of drug trafficking. Before his assassination, the late Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio said in July that he had been threatened by Macías and warned against continuing with his campaign against gang violence for the leadership.


This is a breaking news story. More to follow.

KSL 5 TV Live

World News

Palestinians walk through the destruction from the Israeli offensive in Jabaliya refugee camp in th...

Zeke Miller, Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee

Biden approves military airdrops of aid into Gaza after chaotic encounter left more than 100 dead

President Joe Biden says that the U.S. will begin air-dropping humanitarian assistance into Gaza, a day after more than 100 of Palestinians were killed during a chaotic encounter with Israeli troops.

4 hours ago

"Mary Poppins," which was rated U for Universal upon its 1964 release, is now rated PG in the UK be...

Harmeet Kaur, CNN

‘Mary Poppins’ gets a new age rating in the UK over its use of a racial slur

A British film industry group has raised the age rating for the beloved children’s classic “Mary Poppins” over discriminatory language.

3 days ago

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is preparing to perform its last two concerts in the Philippi...

Dan Rascon

Tabernacle Choir prepares to perform at renowned Mall of Asia with Filipino press day

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is preparing to perform its last two concerts in the Philippines with a press day. Afterward, the choir will continue on with its world tour.

4 days ago

Aaron Bushnell as seen from his LinkedIn profile. Bushnell set himself ablaze outside the Israeli E...

Michael Balsamo, Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., while declaring that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide.”

4 days ago

The Birmingham England Temple Rendering...

Michael Houck

Church releases location for Vancouver Washington Temple, renderings for England, US temples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released the site location of the Vancouver Washington Temple and artistic renderings for temples in England, Nevada and Texas.

4 days ago

FILE - This May 20, 2013, file photo shows a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book "Har...

Associated Press

Proof copy of Harry Potter book, bought for pennies in 1997, sells for more than $13,000

A proof copy of the first Harry Potter novel that was bought for pennies in a second-hand bookshop almost 30 years ago has sold at auction for 11,000 pounds ($13,900.)

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Ecuador declares ‘internal armed conflict’ as gunmen take over live TV broadcast