Ecuador prosecutor investigating TV studio attack shot dead

A public prosecutor in Ecuador who was leading an investigation into the dramatic siege of a television station has been assassinated in Guayaquil.

César Suárez, who launched the major high-profile investigation of organised transnational crime, was shot while driving a vehicle in Guayaquil, considered the most dangerous city in Ecuador with the most violent crimes.

“The criminals, the terrorists, will not hold back our commitment to Ecuadorian society,” the country’s attorney general, Diana Salazar, said in a video posted to social media.

“We call on the forces of order to guarantee the security of those who are carrying out their duties.”

Her office was conducting a preliminary investigation into the broad daylight murder, Ms Salazar said, expressing grief for the prosecutor’s family.

Ecuador has been recently hit by a dramatic surge in violence including prison riots, explosions in several cities and the dramatic attack on the studio of TC Television in Guayaquil.

Heavily armed gangsters stormed into the studio of the TV station during the live broadcast. At least 13 suspects have been arrested for invading the network with pistols, shotguns, machine guns, grenades and sticks of dynamite.

Members of the National Police remain in the place where Prosecutor Cesar Suarez was shot dead in Guayaquil, Ecuador

(AFP via Getty Images)

It prompted president Daniel Noboa to declare that Ecuador is in an “internal armed conflict” amid a spate of seemingly coordinated killings and other crimes tied to drug trafficking.

The attacks forced President Noboa to declare a 60-day state of emergency, including curfews at night and designated 22 criminal gangs as terrorist organisations.

Suárez was also in charge of the high-profile investigation called Metastasis case, an operation to root out narco-corruption involving an Ecuadorian drug lord who allegedly received favourable treatment from judges, prosecutors, police officers and high officials.

The investigation led to raids across Ecuador and 30 arrests with charges against judges for allegedly giving favourable ruling and police officers for tampering evidence.

Navy soldiers frisk two men suspected of belonging to a criminal gang remain detained during a joint operation between the Ecuadorian National Police and members of the Armed Forces to prevent violent acts, in Guayaquil on 15 January

(AFP via Getty Images)

Ecuador was considered one of the calmest countries in Latin America until about three years ago. But criminal activities have permeated both affluent and working-class neighbourhoods, with a surge in professional hitmen, kidnappers, extortionists, and a significant number of thieves and robbers.

Over the past five years, Ecuador has experienced a dramatic surge in its murder rates, reaching a record high of 7,878 killings last year as Mexican and Colombian drug cartels settled into coastal cities like Guayaquil to grab the shipping trade of cocaine from neighbouring Colombia and Peru to countries overseas.

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