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.
BREAKING: CARTEL MEMBERS HAVE SURRENDERED TO POLICE AND SOME HOSTAGES HAVE BEEN RESCUED IN ECUADOR pic.twitter.com/RKiLxaIUc7— Sulaiman Ahmed (@ShaykhSulaiman) January 9, 2024
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.
CHAOS IN ECUADOR: A criminal is captured carrying a bazooka in the middle of a public street in Guayaquil. pic.twitter.com/u2EpxjAM5c— 𝔸𝕝𝕚 𝕊𝕙𝕒𝕙𝕓𝕒𝕫 ℂ𝕙𝕒𝕦𝕕𝕙𝕣𝕪 (@sospunjab) January 9, 2024
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.
BREAKING: POLICE OFFICIALS ARE BEING KIDNAPPED AND THREATENED WITH GUNS AND KNIVES BY THE CARTEL IN ECUADOR pic.twitter.com/7bAvwbKOtn— Sulaiman Ahmed (@ShaykhSulaiman) January 9, 2024
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.
NOW: Ecuador is in total chaos as armed gangs have reportedly stormed the University of Guayaquil, attempting to kidnap students. pic.twitter.com/5IiK9P5ICk— Antonio Sabato Jr (@AntonioSabatoJr) January 9, 2024
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.