Masked gang brandishing guns storms Ecuador TV studio live on air

A live broadcast by Ecuadorean television station TC was interrupted on Tuesday by armed people who obliged staff to lie and sit on the floor, as shots and yelling were heard.

The people, wearing balaclavas and largely dressed in black, were seen wielding large guns and accosting huddled staffers on the live feed, which eventually cut out.

Some of the invaders gestured at the camera and someone could be heard yelling "no police".

Another channel showed images of police outside TC's studios in Guayaquil. The national police said on social media its specialized units had been deployed to the site.

The incident followed the kidnappings of at least seven police officers and a series of explosions, a day after President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency.

Noboa, son of one of the country's richest men, took office in November promising to stem a wave of drug trade-related violence on the streets and in prisons which has been growing for years.

Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency - a tool used by his predecessor to little success - on Monday, enabling military patrols, including in prisons, and setting a national nighttime curfew.

The measure was a response to the apparent escape of Adolfo Macias, leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang, from the prison where he was serving a 34-year sentence, and other recent prison incidents, including hostage-takings of guards.

In an updated decree published on Tuesday afternoon, Noboa said he recognized an "internal armed conflict" in Ecuador and identified several criminal gangs as terrorist groups, including Los Choneros. The decree ordered the armed forces to neutralize the groups.

Three police officers working the night shift were kidnapped in the southern city of Machala, police said on social media earlier on Tuesday, while a fourth officer was taken by three criminals in Quito. Another three officers were kidnapped in Los Rios province after a patrol was hit by an explosive.

"These acts will not remain in impunity," said the police, who have given no details on whether the kidnappers have issued demands.

The police said there were explosions in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Los Rios, while the mayor's office in the city of Cuenca confirmed another and the attorney general's office said it was investigating one in Guayaquil. Local media have also reported explosions in Loja and Machala.

Authorities have not given a cause for any of the explosions and no one has claimed responsibility.