Gunmen Storm Ecuador TV Studio, Taking Hostages

In an alarming video filmed by a television studio in Ecuador, a group of armed criminals can be seen storming in and taking people hostage. This comes after the government recently announced its intentions to crack down on gangs and organized crime.

The assailants, who were wearing balaclavas and almost all black clothing, were screaming “No police!’ into the cameras; firing off their guns before the video abruptly cuts out. According to the local authorities, the situation has been stabilized and they have arrested 13 offenders, with pictures of young men with zip-tied hands behind their backs, were circulated on social media.

Police Commander César Zapata confirmed two grenades and other explosives were recovered, and promised the gunmen would be brought to justice for committing what Zapata called “acts of terrorism.” In response to a previous police kidnapping spree, Ecuador’s President, Daniel Noboa, issued an order that declared 22 different gangs as terrorist organizations.

Reporter Leonardo Flores Moreno stated that the gunmen had assaulted the staff and a broadcaster before leaving dynamite behind and making their way to the television studio, which was filming live. The prison agency explained that 139 guards and other staff were held hostage after 11 prison guards were released.

“We were in a meeting and they alerted us and we were able to hide. We didn’t know what was happening, people were nervous, there were many colleagues… who were hiding,” said Moreno. Another anchor claimed someone did get shot, but that detail has not yet been confirmed by police.

In nearby Peru, the government quickly sent police to the border to stop any trouble from spreading. The U.S. expressed its disapproval of the attacks in Ecuador, and that it is closely working with President Daniel Noboa and his government, and is ready to offer help if needed.

Unfortunately, the country has recently been thrown into upheaval as they deal with prison escapees and destructive explosions, which Noboa blames on the local criminal gangs. When he took office in November, he vowed to crack down on the drug trade, and gang-related crimes.

Under Ecuador’s national law, a 60-page declaration grants the president the power to institute a nationwide curfew and to order military patrols from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.