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Eight die as Ecuador's internal crisis escalates

Wednesday, January 10th 2024 - 11:32 UTC
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Men with rifles and grenades raided the studios of TC Television, Guayaquil's public TV station.

Men with rifles and grenades raided the studios of TC Television, Guayaquil's public TV station.

Noboa signed a decree declaring an Internal Armed Conflict and identified many transnational organized crime groups as terrorist organizations and belligerent non-state actors Noboa signed a decree declaring an Internal Armed Conflict and identified many transnational organized crime groups as terrorist organizations and belligerent non-state actors

At least eight people were killed, many others were wounded and scores were arrested as a wave of drug-trafficking gang violence spread throughout Ecuador -specifically in Quito and Guayaquil- on Tuesday, targeting specifically the country's prisons, a TV station, and a university campus, it was reported.

In Guayaquil alone, 1,932 emergency calls were recorded. Residents described the streets of that city as “no man's land”, in the face of imminent looting and the forced closure of local businesses. A similar situation was replicated in the streets of Quito where Mayor Pabel Muñoz demanded “all the protection of the State, the government and its security forces to protect the right to life”. He also called for the militarization of the city's strategic installations to guarantee their operation.

In this scenario, President Daniel Noboa decreed that the country was going through an “internal armed conflict” and ordered the Armed Forces to carry out the operations to neutralize 22 transnational organized crime groups identified as terrorist organizations and belligerent non-state actors.

“I have signed the executive decree declaring Internal Armed Conflict and identified the following transnational organized crime groups as terrorist organizations and belligerent non-state actors: Águilas, ÁguilasKiller, Ak47, Caballeros Oscuros, ChoneKiller, Choneros, Covicheros, Cuartel de las Feas, Cubanos, Fatales, Gánster, Kater Piler, Lagartos, Latin Kings, Lobos, Los p.27, Los Tiburones, Mafia 18, Mafia Trébol, Patrones, R7, Tiguerones,” said Noboa through his X account.

Noboa's decision came one day after declaring a state of emergency. Looting, kidnappings, and takeovers spread terror in the streets of Ecuador after thousands of prison inmates escaped and took law enforcement officers hostage to demand the end of the state of emergency. In addition to these events, men with rifles and grenades raided the studios of TC Television, Guayaquil's public TV station.

Police officers rescued the broadcaster's staff and detained some members of the armed group. Police Chief César Zapata, confirmed that thirteen men were arrested and weapons, grenades, and explosive materials were seized in the operation. The “National Police acted very subtly, in the sense of respect for human rights, since there were TV station employees inside, but with firmness. The National Police will not allow these acts to be committed,” he stressed. He also said he believed the detainees belonged to the Tiguerones criminal group.

Terror also reached the National University of Ecuador in Guayaquil, where an armed group caused students and professors to seek shelter in the classrooms.

Since Monday night, Ecuador has been under a sixty-day state of emergency, which includes a curfew during the night and early morning hours, due to a series of incidents in prisons and the “alleged escape” of one of the most dangerous criminals in the country. The incidents began as authorities were carrying out operations in a Guayaquil jail in search of José Adolfo Macías, alias 'Fito', leader of “Los Choneros,” regarded as one of the most dangerous criminal gangs in the country due to its alleged links with Mexican cartels.

Given the current situation, Ecuador's Government decided to suspend on-site classes until Jan. 12. The Education Ministry ordered a “change to the Non-Presential modality in the entire National Education System.”

Categories: Politics, Latin America.
Tags: Ecuador, violence.

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