Warning: This video report contains scenes that some viewers may find distressing
A group of masked, armed men stormed a live television broadcast in Ecuador on Tuesday as violence continues to spread across the country.
Currently, it is not clear if the incident is linked to gang leader Adolfo Macias’ disappearance from La Regional prison on Sunday, which has led to the declaration of a national state of emergency.
The gunmen have now all been arrested, according to the head of Ecuador’s national police force.
Earlier, armed intruders had entered the set of the TC Television network in the port city of Guayaquil and shouted that they had “bombs”.
While the transmission was on, the men could be seen on camera as some employees laid down on the floor, and someone was heard yelling: “Don’t shoot!”
The channel broadcast live for at least 15 minutes before the signal was cut off.
No confirmation has yet been provided as to the identity of the perpetrators.
Ecuadorian authorities had earlier confirmed a series of attacks around the country, including explosions and the abduction of several police officers.
Police reported four officers were kidnapped on Monday night and remained missing – one in the capital, Quito, and three in Quevedo city.
Ecuador’s government has not said how many attacks were registered in total, but local media reported several, including some in northern cities, where vehicles were set on fire.
In Ecuador’s’ capital, Quito, meanwhile, an explosion was reported near the house of the president of the National Justice Court.
President Daniel Noboa, who came into power in November with a promise to bring peace to the South American country, met with his security Cabinet on Tuesday.
Afterward, the head of the Armed Forces Joint Command said the attacks were the gangs’ reactions to the government’s moves against them.
Macias, also known as Fito and leader of the Los Choneros gang, had been convicted of drug trafficking, murder and organised crime, and was serving a 34-year prison sentence.
On Sunday, he was due to be transferred to a maximum security facility in the same city.
Los Choneros is considered by Ecuadorian authorities to be responsible for a spike in violence which reached a new level last year, with the assassination of the presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.
Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel also has strong links to Los Choneros, authorities said.
In February 2013, Fito fled from a maximum security facility, although he was recaptured within several weeks.
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