Ecuador descended into chaos this week as a powerful gang leader disappeared from jail, uprisings broke out in several prisons, and guards were kidnapped and threatened by inmates in what has quickly escalated into a major crisis for the South American country.
The unrest continued on Tuesday afternoon, when masked men stormed a television station in Guayaquil, the nation’s largest city, taking anchors and staff hostage and exchanging gunfire with the police as cameras rolled. The standoff ended after the police subdued and arrested the intruders.
Explosions were also reported around the country, and the authorities announced that a second major gang leader and other inmates had escaped from another prison.
The president, Daniel Noboa, declared an internal armed conflict on Tuesday, and ordered the armed forces to “neutralize” two dozen gangs, which he described as “terrorist organizations,” according to a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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