In a turbulent turn of events gunmen wearing masks stormed a Guayaquil television station in Ecuador on 09 January, Tuesday. The violent incident unfolded live on air as the country faced widespread disorder. Earlier in the week on Sunday a prominent gang leader Adolfo Macías also known as “Fito” mysteriously disappeared from an overcrowded prison in Guayaquil

The week saw uprisings in multiple prisons with inmates kidnapping and threatening guards. On Tuesday the armed attackers seized the TV station engaging in gunfire with the police. Hostages including anchors and staff were held and a demand was made on air for a microphone to send a message about the consequences of “messing with the mafias.” The police intervened before the message could be conveyed.

By Tuesday afternoon at least eight people had died and two others were injured in violent episodes in Guayaquil. As reported the chaos extended across the country with explosions, burning vehicles, looting and gunfire. Ecuador’s president Daniel Noboa declared an internal armed conflict describing two dozen gangs as “terrorist organizations.” A state of emergency was declared imposing a nationwide overnight curfew. Over 3,000 police and military officers are deployed to restore order.

The turmoil followed the government’s decision to transfer high-profile convicts including Macías from their current cells to a maximum-security facility. This move aimed at gaining control over the prison system is believed to have triggered Macías’ escape and contributed to the widespread unrest.