TV Studio Taken Hostage during Live Broadcast

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A group of masked men with guns and explosives broke into a TV studio in Guayaquil, Ecuador, during a live broadcast on Tuesday.

According to ABC News, 13 men were armed with pistols and sticks of dynamite after they entered the set of the TC Network while a news program was live on the air. Noises similar to gunshots can be heard while the men shout that they have bombs.

Thankfully, no one was killed, and all the masked were arrested and charged with terrorism. Under Ecuadorian law, anyone convicted of terrorism faces a penalty of up to 13 years in prison.

“I am still in shock,” Alina Manrique, the head of news for TC Television, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “Everything has collapsed …. All I know is that it’s time to leave this country and go very far away.”

At the time of the incident, Manrique was in the control room when the men burst through the building. While the attack was aired live, the station’s signal was disconnected 15 minutes later. 

Ecuador has recently faced a series of attacks, including the abductions of several police officers after a notorious gang leader, Adolfo Macias of the Los Choneros gang, escaped from prison last weekend. On Monday, Ecuadorian President Daniel Nobo declared a national state of emergency, in which authorities were permitted to suspend people’s rights and mobilize the military in places such as prisons.

Shortly after the incident at the TV station, Noboa issued another decree designating 20 drug trafficking gangs operating in the country as terrorist groups and authorizing Ecuador’s military to “neutralize” them based on international humanitarian law. It also stated that the country has now experienced an internal armed conflict.

On Tuesday, Ecuadorian officials announced that another gang leader, Fabricio Colón Pico of the Los Lobos gang, had escaped from a prison in the town of Riobamba. He was previously arrested on Friday amid a kidnapping investigation and was also alleged of attempting to murder one of the nation’s lead prosecutors.

In light of Tuesday’s events, Will Freeman, a political analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, shared that Ecuador has a high point in violence across the country regardless of

the past assassination of a presidential candidate by gangs and the setting off of car bombs in front of government buildings.

“This is a turning point,” Freeman said. “Depending on how the government responds, it will set a precedent for these kinds of incidents to continue, or it will use this as a catalyst and make some very necessary structural reforms so that the state can start to win its war against crime.”

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

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