At approximately 1400 local time (1900 UTC) on 9 January 2024, armed individuals believed to be members of the Los Tiguerones and Los Lobos gangs stormed a state-owned television network studio in Guayaquil’s Ciudadela Adace area during a live broadcast. The gunmen took multiple staff members hostage prior to the arrival of specialized security personnel, who confirmed the occurrence of gunfire and small explosions in and around the TC Televisión facility. Approximately one hour later, another group of gunmen reportedly entered the nearby campus of the University of Guayaquil in search of additional hostages. Ecuadorian National Police arrested at least 10 suspects involved in the incident. Additionally, police officers and military personnel engaged armed individuals near the Albán Borja Mall and the Guayaquil Terrestrial Terminal bus station. Following these events, President Daniel Noboa enacted an executive decree declaring an internal armed conflict against several organized crime groups and ordered the country’s armed forces to begin operations against those groups. Noboa labeled 22 gangs as terrorist organizations, including the Los Choneros, Los Tiguerones and Los Lobos gangs. During the course of the day, at least eight people were killed in Guayaquil. Seven police officers were kidnapped and 30 car explosions occurred across the country.
Analyst Comment: The risk of continued attacks across Ecuador, including attempted kidnappings and car bombings, targeting government buildings, transportation hubs, public gathering places and security installations, is likely to remain elevated over the next several days as security personnel actively engage gang members and their leadership. Additional deployment of security personnel in major urban areas is expected, especially in areas housing correctional facilities, government buildings, transportation hubs and on major highways. Likewise, the countrywide nightly curfew currently in effect from 2300-0500 local time (0400-1000 UTC) could be expanded to aid military operations against criminal groups. Security officials have also announced that all travelers must possess identification and their boarding pass/flight booking document to travel to and from airports during the nightly curfew.