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&Eacute ;cuador: the prosecutor investigating the hostage taking killed

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Members of the national police inspect the car of Ecuadorian prosecutor Cesar Suarez, who was there when he was assassinated in Guayaquil on Wednesday.

Agence France-Presse

The prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the irruption of armed men live on the set of an Ecuadorian public television channel on January 9 was assassinated on Wednesday as the country found under the state of emergency, in “war” against drug trafficking gangs.

According to the prosecution, the prosecutor murdered in Guayaquil, in the southwest of the country, was responsible for determining which gang had carried out this assault.

In the photos obtained by the x27;AFP, we see several bullet holes which passed through the driver's side side window, although apparently armored.

In response to the murder of our colleague Cesar Suarez […], I will be categorical: organized crime groups, criminals and terrorists will not stop not our commitment to Ecuadorian society, said Attorney General Diana Salazar, in a video published on X.

The spectacular images of the live irruption of heavily armed, hooded men, pinning journalists and employees of the TC channel to the ground under threat in Guayaquil, had gone around the world.

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They came in to kill us; my God, protect us, one of the captive journalists had sent to an AFP correspondent, in a WhatsApp message. Complaints were audible in the background.

Amid the gunfire, the broadcast of these surreal images continued live for long minutes, despite the lights going out on the set and the camera freezing.

The rapid intervention of law enforcement made it possible to put an end to the hostage-taking without causing any casualties and to arrest 13 attackers.

I was struck by their inexperience, one of the journalists taken hostage told AFP. Basically, they were just children, which is confirmed by the presentation to the press of the members of the group who were arrested and handcuffed. According to the authorities, they are between 16 and 25 years old.

A few images remain in memory: the signs made in front of the camera by the attackers boasting to claim their belonging to gangs, or even the shotgun placed on the head of an unfortunate reporter.

This assault on a television set was the media high point of the chain of violence triggered by the escape, a few days earlier, of the feared leader of the Choneros gang, Adolfo Macias, alias “ Fito.”

Several mutinies and hostage-taking of guards have affected prisons, and in the streets of Guayaquil or the capital, Quito, gangs sowed terror with explosions or shots aimed at the police.

To restore order, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa declared the country at war against gangs and sent more than 20,000 soldiers into the field. Violence in the country has left at least 19 dead.

Prosecutors are under threat from the twenty or so criminal organizations operating in Ecuador, once a haven ravaged by violence after becoming the main export point for cocaine produced in neighboring states. Peru and Colombia.

In June, prosecutor Leonardo Palacios was killed by gunmen in the town of Duran, neighboring Guayaquil .

Diana Salazar reported direct death threats from Los Lobos, one of the main criminal organizations, whose leader , Fabricio Colon Picole, also escaped from prison last week.

Ecuadorian justice attacks criminals, but also corruption linked to drug trafficking which has corrupted even the mysteries of the State.

The so-called Metastasis case – the biggest in history against corruption and drug trafficking in Ecuador, according to the prosecutor – has uncovered at the end of last year a criminal structure involving prosecutors, prison officials and police officers whose objective was to obtain impunity and the freedom of those prosecuted or convicted, as well as introducing prohibited items into prison.

Politicians are also targeted. At the end of 2023, presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, in Quito, and Agustin Intriago, mayor of Manta (one of the country's main cities), were also killed by criminals.

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