Ecuador TV station raid: Journalist who had gun to his neck live on air says gunmen threatened to kill him | World News

Ecuador TV station raid: Journalist who had gun to his neck live on air says gunmen threatened to kill him | World News

Ecuador TV station raid: Journalist who had gun to his neck live on air says gunmen threatened to kill him | World News

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An Ecuadorian journalist who was held at gunpoint live on air has told Sky News how his attackers threatened to kill him if police arrived.

Jose Luis Calderon said the masked gunmen also placed an improvised explosive in his jacket pocket during the terrifying ordeal at TC Television’s studios in Guayaquil on Tuesday night.

The incident took place after one of the country’s most notorious drug gang bosses escaped from prison, sparking Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa to declare a 60-day state of emergency.

In footage of the incident, which was broadcast live on the TC network, Mr Calderon was seen attempting to plead with the masked gunmen, one of whom pushed a gun to his neck.

“They kept on repeating, ‘if the police come in, we’ll kill you’,” he told Sky News.

“It was a really chaotic moment, but in that instant, I kept my calm. You’ve seen the pictures, I’m calm, looking as if I’m praying, asking them not to go too far.

“There was no explanation about what was happening at that moment.

“The news programme was on air and that’s why you were able to see the footage. You could see what was happening when they pointed a gun at me, they put an explosive in my jacket pocket.

“They were really unnerving moments, but at the same time, I managed to stay calm.”

Pic: TC Television

Pic: TC Television

Mr Calderon said he was not initially on air at the time the masked gunmen burst into the studio, and first became aware that there was an issue when he heard people shouting.

He and two colleagues attempted to hide in a nearby bathroom.

“We were hidden in there for a few minutes,” he said.

“We managed to speak to our relatives and warn the police about what was happening without knowing the exact details of what was going on and who was behind it.”

He said the gunmen discovered where they were hiding and ordered them to come out.

“We saw that they were hooded men, with big military-type guns, pistols, revolvers, there was even a machete,” he said.

“They made threats constantly. My colleagues were touched inappropriately.

“They led us to the studio, which was still live on air. When we arrived, just metres away there were colleagues, people working for the channel who were on the floor, very worried, on their knees, and they took us hostage.”

Hooded man points a gun at Ecuadorian TV presenter Jose Luis Calderon. Pic: TC Television

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Mr Calderon said at one point a gunman shouted to say that they “had to kill one” of the hostages.

“People were very worried. In my case, I’ve been a journalist for 23 years, including in the field.

“I’ve covered events like this, and I’ve seen tragic events – but I’ve never been part of one.”

Mr Calderon said the gunmen, who he described as a group of “armed kids”, wanted him to communicate a message on the television, but it was not clear what they wanted him to say.

He said when police arrived and began shooting, the group dispersed and were eventually captured by police.

Ecuador’s national police service shared images of people detained by officers following the incident

“We’re grateful that we’re alive. This is completely unheard of, for this sort of thing to happen on TV, for someone to threaten us on our property,” Mr Calderon said.

“The message that they wanted to send was just chaos. Here we are to impose ourselves above the law.”

Mr Calderon said that despite the incident – which he described as a “terrorist attack” – the people of Ecuador should keep “faith in the work” of the armed forces and police.

“There’s fear that another situation like this could happen. We’re hoping for action to be taken to guarantee our safety,” he said.

“My life was at risk, as well as my colleagues. I’ve never seen a situation like this.

“But we should have faith in the work of the armed forces. The police and the armed forces are in a position that allows them to take action against any situation.”

Following the incident, Ecuador’s attorney general’s office said 13 people had been arrested for breaking into the studio and were set to be charged with terrorism offences.

The charge holds a penalty of up to 13 years in prison under Ecuadorian law, if convicted.

Members of military stand guard near the Presidential Palace after the declaration of a state of emergency

A state of emergency has been declared in Ecuador Pic: AP

National police commander Cesar Zapata told the TV channel Teleamazonas that officers seized a number of guns and explosives at the scene.

The incident took place a day after Mr Noboa, the son of one of Ecuador’s richest men, who took office in November promising to stem a wave of drug-related violence on the streets and in prisons, declared a state of emergency.

The declaration was made after drug lord, Adolfo Macias – also known as Fito – was reported missing from his cell on Sunday.

The leader of the Los Choneros gang was serving a 34-year sentence in La Regional prison for drug trafficking and murder.

The leader of the powerful Los Choneros gang, Jose Adolfo Macias, alias ‘Fito’ Pic: Ecuadorean Armed Forces

His reported escape occurred on the same day he was scheduled to be transferred to a maximum security facility in the city of Guayaquil.

Ecuador‘s prosecutors have filed charges against two prison guards as part of their investigation into the alleged escape.

Los Choneros is one of the gangs authorities consider responsible for a spike in violence that reached new heights last year with the assassination of the presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

Interview conducted by Andrew Connell, deputy foreign news editor.



Ecuador TV station raid: Journalist who had gun to his neck live on air says gunmen threatened to kill him | World News

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