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President of Ecuador Says Country in State of Internal Armed Conflict

Ecuadorean police members take position outside the premises of Ecuador’s TC television channel after unidentified gunmen burst into the state-owned television studio live on air on January 9, 2024, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a day after Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency following the escape from prison of a dangerous narco boss. Gunshots rang out on live TV in violence-torn Ecuador as armed men carrying rifles and grenades stormed the studio shortly after gangsters vowed a “war” against the president’s plans to reclaim control from “narcoterrorists”.

MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) – Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa declared on Tuesday that the country is in a state of internal armed conflict amid the hostage-taking riots in various cities and prisons and designated several organized crime groups as “terrorist organizations.” “I signed a decree declaring an internal armed conflict and identified the following transnational organized criminal groups as terrorist organizations and belligerent non-state actors,” Noboa said on X (formerly Twitter), attaching the text of the decree in the post. More than 20 groups and organizations are listed in the president’s decree as “terrorist.”The president’s declaration came moments after reports detailed that a group of armed men had stormed the studio room of the nation’s TC Television in Guayaquil, forcibly putting crew members onto the floor as officials sought to quell tensions.Within minutes, Ecuadorian police revealed on social media that authorities had managed to dispatch special forces to detain the various masked gunmen. However, the situation has grown increasingly hostile, with reports detailing that armed men have also stormed various public facilities and appeared to take hostages in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito and in the Los Rios province.Earlier Tuesday, it was reported that explosives had also been detonated in several cities in response to the two-month state of emergency implemented by the Noboa government, which has doubled down on its efforts to clamp down on rampant crime within the country.The Tuesday development came after local media detailed that some seven police officers had been kidnapped by gangs, and used in recordings to warn that gangs would be retaliating against the state of emergency and crackdown on illicit activity.In one video cited by media, one of the detained police officers read a message relaying that gangs would be bringing a “war” to the Noboa administration. “You declared a state of emergency. We declare police, civilians and soldiers to be the spoils of war,” the officer was filmed saying. It further noted that any individuals found outside after 11 p.m. local time would be killed.

The 60-day state of emergency was further implemented in response to the disappearance of drug cartel leader Adolfo Macias, otherwise known as Fito and considered to be one of Ecuador's most wanted. Macias, who was serving a 34-year sentence, managed to escape from prison.

A manhunt has also been underway for fellow narco boss Fabricio Colon Pico, who escaped from prison the week prior.

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