Ecuador Declares Internal Armed Conflict Amidst Violent Unrest

In a shocking turn of events, Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa has declared an “internal armed conflict” in response to a series of violent incidents plaguing the nation. The announcement comes in the wake of hooded and armed assailants interrupting a live television broadcast from the coastal city of Guayaquil.

The armed individuals forcibly took over TC Television’s live broadcast, prompting fears among Ecuadorians. Social media footage revealed the attackers forcing staff onto the studio floor, with shots and yelling heard in the background. Ecuador’s police later reported the arrest of all armed individuals, evacuation of media outlet members, and assurance that all staff and hostages were unharmed.

The situation unfolded following the escape of high-profile gang leader Adolfo “Fito” Macias from a prison in Guayaquil. Since the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency, Ecuador has witnessed explosions, police kidnappings, and prison disturbances. The unrest resulted in eight deaths in Guayaquil, two police officers killed in Nobol, and numerous arrests across the country.

President Noboa’s decree, declaring the country in an “internal armed conflict,” empowers security forces to neutralize criminal groups accused of spreading extreme violence. The state of emergency, set to last 60 days, imposes a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. to control public order disturbances.

Ecuador has been grappling with rising violence, with over 8,000 violent deaths reported in 2023, nearly double the figure from 2022. Ecuador’s security situation has been exacerbated by rival criminal organizations vying for control of drug trafficking routes, leading to brutal displays of violence on the streets and in prisons. The escalating violence poses a severe test for President Noboa, who promised to address soaring crime during last year’s election.

President Noboa’s tough approach to combatting crime, including plans to militarize jails and isolate powerful gang leaders, has faced rebellion from various gangs. The recent escapes of Macias and another gang leader, Fabricio Colón, have further fueled the crisis. The president’s pledge to follow El Salvador’s example in constructing maximum-security prisons reflects his commitment to curbing organized crime’s influence.

The situation is marked by chaos, with explosions reported, armed individuals attempting to enter hospitals, and incidents inside prisons. Ecuador’s Armed Forces are conducting control operations in conflict-ridden areas, while the National Assembly holds an emergency meeting to address the escalating crisis.

The search for Adolfo “Fito” Macias continues, with over 3,000 police officers and armed forces deployed to locate the escaped gang leader. The exact details of Macias’ escape remain unknown, adding complexity to Ecuador’s security challenges.

The situation has prompted neighboring countries like Peru to declare emergencies along their borders with Ecuador, while Brazil, Colombia, and Chile express support for the Ecuadorean government. The Chinese embassy and consulates in Ecuador have temporarily closed amid the escalating turmoil. As Ecuador grapples with this internal armed conflict, the world watches closely, hoping for a swift resolution to the crisis.

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