MASKED men broke into a public television studio in Ecuador on Tuesday, waving guns and explosives during a live broadcast, with President Daniel Noboa issuing a decree that the violence-plagued country had entered an “internal armed conflict.”
The men, armed with pistols and what looked like sticks of dynamite, entered the set of the TC Television network in the port city of Guayaquil during a news programme that was airing live in thousands of homes across the nation and shouted that they had bombs. Gunshots could also be heard.
No-one was killed in the attack, and authorities later said that all 13 masked intruders had been arrested and would be charged with terrorism.
Authorities have not said who was behind the television station occupation, or a series of other attacks that have shaken the South American country recently, but they follow the apparent escapes from prison of two leaders of Ecuador’s most powerful drug gangs.
Alina Manrique, the head of news for the station, said she was in the control room across from the studio when the men burst into the building.
One of them pointed a gun at her head and told her to get on the floor, Ms Manrique said.
The incident was aired live, although the station’s signal was cut off after about 15 minutes.
Ms Manrique said some of the assailants ran from the studio and tried to hide when they realised they were surrounded by police.
“I am still in shock,” she said.
Ecuador has been rocked by a series of attacks, including the abductions of several police officers, in the wake of a notorious gang leader’s apparent weekend escape from prison.
Ecuador’s centre-right President Noboa declared a national state of emergency on Monday, a measure that lets authorities suspend rights and mobilises the military.
Source: Morning Star