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9 Jan, 2024 22:54

Ecuador descends into cartel violence (VIDEOS)

Footage posted to social media shows criminal gangs running amok and taking security forces hostage
Ecuador descends into cartel violence (VIDEOS)

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa declared a state of “internal armed conflict” on Tuesday after gunmen stormed a TV station and attacked police officers around the country.

Security forces were deployed in Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, where masked gunmen overran the headquarters of TC Television, interrupting a live broadcast.

More than a dozen attackers have since been detained and all of the hostages were rescued, according to national police chief Cesar Augusto Zapata Correa.

Videos posted to social media show armed men on the streets on Guayaquil.

One person was filmed holding what appears to be a rocket launcher.

At least seven police officers were kidnapped in three cities, the National Police said on Tuesday. Several prison guards were also reportedly taken hostage as well.

An unverified video shows security officials guarded by hooded and masked men armed with knives. Extremely graphic videos circulating online show gang members executing at least two police officers. 

A video posted on social media on Tuesday shows one of the captive officers reading a message addressed to the president, while a gun was pointed at his head. 

“You declared war, you will get war,” the officer said. “You declared a state of emergency. We declare police, civilian and soldiers to be the spoils of war.”

There were unverified reports of criminals rampaging through the University of Guayaquil on Tuesday. Many students fled the main building in panic and some barricaded themselves on campus. The university later released a statement denying that an attack had taken place.

Ecuador’s neighbor to the south, Peru, has ordered a special police unit to reinforce the border due to the outbreak of violence.

Noboa is a banana fortune heir who won the presidential election in October on a promise to tackle violent crime. He declared the state of emergency on Monday, after notorious gang leaders Adolfo ‘Fito’ Macias and Fabricio Colon escaped during a series of prison riots that began on Sunday in six of the country’s provinces. The authorities have blamed the violence on organized crime linked to drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico.