Armed Gunmen Take Over TV Studio, Threaten Crew Members

( – Armed men stormed a television studio in Ecuador amid escalating violence throughout the region. There’s still no word as to why the gunmen took over the building and threatened crew members, but the harrowing ordeal was aired live for 15 minutes before someone cut the signal.

NPR reports that the men entered the TC Television network set with pistols and what appeared to be sticks of dynamite. They burst in during a live news broadcast, so thousands of onlookers watched as the assailants took control of the studio and forced everyone present to the floor. Sounds of apparent gunshots were audible in the background, and the armed men warned that they also had bombs. A cameraman suffered a bullet wound to the leg, and another individual sustained a broken arm during the assault.

Ecuador has been struggling against increased violence from powerful gangs, with numerous police officers being the recent targets of kidnappings. The organized crime rings are responsible for most of the country’s drug trafficking, and they went so far as to assassinate a presidential candidate in 2023. Increases in attacks appeared to coincide with the prison escape of Los Choneros gang leader Adolfo “Fito” Macías. He was staying at a low-security facility, but authorities had been planning on transferring him to a maximum-security prison on the day he went missing. Two prison guards, whom officials suspect assisted in the escape, are currently being detained.

The TV studio incident is just one of many factors that led to President Daniel Noboa declaring a national state of emergency. The move allows the military to take charge in places like prisons, where gangs hold much of the power. BBC shares that the emergency ordinance, which includes an evening curfew, will last for 60 days. The government has officially declared war against the terrorist groups, with orders that gang members be “neutralized” and order restored to the country.

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