Ecuador streets deserted as president declares ‘state of war’ on drug gangs | World News

Ecuador streets deserted as president declares ‘state of war’ on drug gangs | World News

Ecuador streets deserted as president declares ‘state of war’ on drug gangs | World News

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The streets in Ecuador fell silent the day after hooded gunman invaded a live television broadcast, as President Daniel Noboa declared a “state of war” on drug-trafficking gangs.

Residents in the country’s capital Quito and port city of Guayaquil likened the atmosphere to a pandemic lockdown, with many businesses closed and schools shuttered.

“It’s horrible, the streets are very empty,” Rodolfo Tuaz, a 40-year-old security guard said. “It’s a very cold environment, as if there were a new COVID.”

It comes after live television images broadcast on Tuesday showed people wearing balaclavas – some waving guns – inside Ecuador’s TC Television station in Guayaquil.

Alleged gang members were seen telling TC staff to lie down on the floor and claimed that they had “bombs”, while shouting and noises similar to gunshots could be heard in the background.

Image:
A man walks past closed stores in a normally busy

The government said nearly 330 people, including 13 people in connection with the live broadcast raid, had been arrested for alleged acts of terrorism.

In an updated statement, President Noboa said: “We are in a state of war and we cannot give in.”

“We’ve taken measures that should have been taken a long time ago, and which past governments didn’t take the decision to do,” he said.

“We are living in a state practically of war against terrorism, these are not organised criminal groups, but terrorists sometimes financed by narcotraffic, sometimes human trafficking, organ trafficking, gunrunning.”

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Journalist describes TV attack horror

He named 22 gangs as terrorist organisations, making them official military targets.

The president warned that judges, prosecutors and officials who collaborated with the gangs would be considered part of a terrorist network.

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Unrest was triggered after the leader of one of Ecuador’s most powerful drug gangs – Los Choneros – disappeared from prison.

Image:
Hooded man points a gun at presenter Jose Luis Calderon. Pic: TC television station

Adolfo Macias – also known as Fito – was serving a 34-year sentence in La Regional prison for drug trafficking and murder when he was reported missing from his cell on 6 January.

President Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency, which he hardened after more than 130 prison guards and staff were taken hostage inside prisons and a series of explosions were reported across the South American country.

The government claimed the latest wave of violence is a reaction to the president’s plan to build new high-security prisons for gang leaders.

The country will also begin deporting foreign prisoners, especially Colombians, to reduce prison populations and spending.

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Ecuador streets deserted as president declares ‘state of war’ on drug gangs | World News

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