Noboa elevates national emergency following new violence; Police rescue tv studio staff in gang attack

Jan 10, 2024 | 0 comments

President Daniel Noboa has elevated the status of Monday’s national emergency, claiming the country has entered a state of internal armed conflict. The new decree authorizes deployment of the armed forces and National Police into the streets and other public areas to “neutralize criminals and terrorists.”

An announcer is held at gunpoint Tuesday afternoon at TC Television studio in Guayaquil.

Noboa’s original declaration, issued Monday afternoon, put the military and police on standby alert with orders to respond to local events as needed.

In Tuesday’s order, Noboa named 21 gangs he labeled as “public enemies of Ecuador.” Among the gangs are Los Choneros, Los Lobos, Los Chone Killers, Los Tiguerones, Latin Kings and Los Aguilas.

The new declaration follows Monday night violence that continued into Tuesday. Tuesday’s events were concentrated in Guayaquil and Esmeraldas, where more explosions were detonated and cars set on fire. In the day’s most dramatic gang attack, armed members of the Los Tiguerones gang invaded the studios of state-owned TC Television in Guayaquil, holding broadcasters and staff hostage for about 15 minutes before police came to the rescue. Gang members were briefly pictured on live tv, waving firearms and machetes while their captives sat and lay on the floor. Police captured 13 of the attackers. One tv station employee was injured in the incident.

Army troops began moving into Cuenca’s historic district Tuesday afternoon.

Throughout the country, public offices, businesses and schools sent employees and students home as a precautionary move. In Cuenca, public schools located near the Turi prison suspended classes while businesses in the historic district closed early following the circulation of rumors that proved false. The Universities of Cuenca and Azuay also suspended classes. Police say no violent incidents have been reported in the city since Monday night, when three explosions caused minor damage on city streets.

Late Tuesday, a police officer patrolling a mostly empty Parque Calderon, said Cuenca had suffered a case of “mass hysteria” based on news from other parts of the country and rumors of local bombings.

Social media reports of bombings at the 9th de Octubre and 12 de Abril markets and at the government building on Parque Calderon were debunked by officials.

National Police report that most of the Turi prison remains under the control of inmates, with 49 guards and administrative employees being held hostage. Hostages are also being held in two other prisons.

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