Armed gunmen take over Ecuador TV studio during live broadcast, threaten staff: ‘A terrorist act’

Armed gunmen take over Ecuador TV studio during live broadcast, threaten staff: 'A terrorist act'

In a shocking turn of events, masked gunmen stormed a television studio in Guayaquil, Ecuador, taking staff hostage and causing a live broadcast to capture the harrowing scene. The assailants, numbering 13 in total, infiltrated the TC Television studio, where they pointed their weapons at terrified employees during the broadcast. The incident unfolded live on air for approximately 15 minutes before the signal was abruptly cut.

A distressing video circulated on social media, revealing the gunmen’s menacing presence in the studio. The masked assailants approached a man who pleaded with them to deescalate the situation. The gunmen, yelling in Spanish, forced the individual to the ground and brandished what they claimed were bombs. In a disturbing moment, one of the assailants placed what appeared to be a dynamite stick in the pleading staffer’s jacket pocket.

Ecuador’s police commander, César Zapata, confirmed that authorities swiftly arrested the 13 masked gunmen and confiscated their weapons. He characterized the incident as a terrorist act, emphasizing the severity of the situation. Fortunately, no casualties were reported during the television studio takeover. The country’s attorney general’s office declared that the arrested individuals would face charges related to terrorism.

The shocking incident is part of a series of recent attacks that have rattled Ecuador. The unrest follows President Daniel Noboa’s declaration of a national state of emergency in response to the escape of notorious gang leader Adolfo Macías, also known as “Fito,” from prison. Macías, serving a 34-year sentence, disappeared from his cell on the day he was scheduled to be transferred to a maximum-security prison.

President Noboa’s emergency order, which includes suspending certain rights and mobilizing the military in designated areas like prisons, has led to heightened tensions and security concerns. The government also implemented a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. as part of its efforts to address the escalating situation.

In the aftermath of the attack on the TV station, President Noboa issued a decree designating 20 drug trafficking gangs operating in the country as terrorist groups. The decree authorizes Ecuador’s military to “neutralize” these groups within the bounds of international humanitarian law. The unfolding events, marked by explosions, vehicle arsons, and the kidnapping of police officers, underscore the challenging security landscape that has gripped Ecuador in the wake of these unsettling developments.