Gunmen storm Ecuador television studio live on air

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Armed attackers take over a television channel in Ecuador during a live broadcast, Guayaquil - 09 Jan 2024Image source, EPA

A group of armed men have broken into a live television studio in Ecuador and threatened staff, footage shows.

A live broadcast by station TC in the city of Guayaquil was interrupted on Tuesday by the group, who were wearing hoods and carrying guns.

Staff were forced to on to the floor, before the live feed cut out.

A 60-day state of emergency began in Ecuador on Monday after a convicted gang leader vanished from his prison cell.

The hooded men were seen leaving the TC studios, with police seen entering the set about 30 minutes after the gunmen first appeared.

National police units in Quito and Guayaquil have been deployed to the scene.

The country’s national police force said in an update on X, formerly Twitter, that staff had been evacuated from the studio.

Following the incident, President Daniel Noboa signed an executive order declaring an internal armed conflict and listed several organised crime groups as “terrorist organisations” and “non-state actors”.

At least seven police officers have been kidnapped by gang members since the state of emergency was declared.

The measures were introduced by President Noboa after the boss of the Los Choneros gang disappeared from a maximum security jail on Sunday.

Nearly 40 other inmates, including another convicted drug lord, broke out from another prison in the city of Riobamba in the early hours of Tuesday.

It is not clear at this stage whether the storming of the television station is linked to the prison escape, but it is an example of the deteriorating security situation in the country.

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