TV studio seized, army patrolling streets: What is known about unrest in Ecuador

  The Ecuadorian government has declared a state of emergency and a regime of "internal armed conflict" following riots that have...

 


The Ecuadorian government has declared a state of emergency and a regime of "internal armed conflict" following riots that have engulfed the country and an upsurge in activity by criminal gangs.

Riots broke out in a number of prisons, a group of armed men broke into the broadcasting studio of TC Television and took the channel’s anchorpersons as hostages, and police and prison staff have been seized. According to the Ecuadorian police, at least 13 people, including two police officers, were killed in the riots. Against this background, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa ordered the armed forces to neutralize criminal groups.

TASS has gathered the key facts about the ongoing crisis situation in Ecuador.

Prison riots, seizures of police officers

On January 9, riots broke out in four prisons in Ecuador after the alleged escape of Adolfo "Fito" Macias, leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang, who had been serving a 34-year sentence for murder, drug trafficking and gang activity, the newspaper Expreso reported.

In the midst of the rioting, Los Lobos criminal group leader Fabricio Colon Pico escaped from the Chimborazo prison in Riobamba, Ecuador. In total, the office of Ecuador's attorney general reported that 39 prisoners had escaped, 17 of whom have already been captured.

At least 13 people, including two police officers, died in the riots, the Ecuadorian news outlet El Diario reported, citing police. "As a result of prompt police action, 70 criminals were arrested and three police officers were released. During the arrest, eight grenades, 15 Molotov cocktails and nine firearms were confiscated from the terrorists," the Ecuadorian police reported on the its X (formerly Twitter) page.

The National Integrated Care Service said that 11 guards taken hostage by prison rioters over the past two days had been released, but 139 guards were still being held captive.

Attack on TV station

Armed masked men took hostages at the Ecuadorian TV station TC Television on January 9, the newspaper El Universo reported. According to Reuters, the attackers forced the staff to the floor and threatened them with weapons, which was all broadcast on live television.

On January 10, police released most of the hostages and detained at least 13 participants in the attack, who will be charged with terrorism, according to the office of Ecuador's attorney general. According to investigators, no one was killed in the attack. Reuters reported, citing TC Television, that two employees of the TV station were injured.

Ecuador's Ecuavisa TV channel and Vistazo magazine evacuated their employees after the attack, La Nacion newspaper reported.

Reaction of Ecuadorian authorities

On Monday, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency in the country to restore order in the prisons. Noboa said that his government "will not negotiate with terrorists," and military and police leaders were ordered to take control of the prisons. Ecuadorian Armed Forces Joint Command Chief Jaime Vela Eraso said that members of criminal gangs operating on Ecuadorian territory are a legitimate military target for the country's army and there will be no negotiations with them. In light of the deteriorating security situation, the South American country has declared a regime of "internal armed conflict." Ecuador's president ordered the mobilization of the armed forces and national police "to ensure the defense of sovereignty and territorial integrity against organized transnational crime, terrorist organizations and belligerent non-state actors."

Noboa ordered the armed forces to neutralize 22 criminal groups while respecting international humanitarian law and human rights.

On Tuesday, the Ecuadorian president convened a meeting of the Public and National Security Council to develop measures to combat criminal groups.

Situation in country

The country's armed forces have moved military equipment into the center of the capital, Quito, according to the Ecuavisa TV channel. Access to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport building in Quito has also been restricted. Only passengers with tickets or boarding passes can enter the airport.

All educational institutions in Ecuador announced that they would operate remotely until January 12. The country has also imposed a 60-day curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

International reaction

The Russian Embassy in Ecuador has no information about any injured Russian nationals and advised against traveling to Ecuador. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Radio Sputnik that no incidents involving Russian citizens have been recorded in Ecuador so far.·Peru condemned the acts of violence committed by members of groups in Ecuador and expressed support for the country's authorities. The Andean country has also strengthened security measures and increased the contingent of law enforcement officers in northern Peruvian regions bordering on Ecuador. A state of emergency has been declared in northern Peru.·Brazil expressed its solidarity with the authorities and people of Ecuador, establishing a crisis center and a hotline for Brazilian nationals in the country.·The Organization of American States (OAS), Argentina and Bolivia expressed their willingness to help restore peace in Ecuador.·The Chinese and US diplomatic missions in Ecuador had suspended operations as of Wednesday.


-News Feed

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Local Glob: TV studio seized, army patrolling streets: What is known about unrest in Ecuador
TV studio seized, army patrolling streets: What is known about unrest in Ecuador
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