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Prosecutor in the TV studio attack is shot dead in Ecuador's most dangerous city

Soldiers enter the prison in Cotopaxi, Ecuador, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Soldiers and police intervened in several prisons in Ecuador in search of weapons, ammunition and explosives and to restore order.
Dolores Ochoa
/
AP
Soldiers enter the prison in Cotopaxi, Ecuador, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Soldiers and police intervened in several prisons in Ecuador in search of weapons, ammunition and explosives and to restore order.

QUITO, Ecuador — A prosecutor investigating a dramatic attack on the set of a public television channel last week was shot to death Wednesday in Guayaquil, the most dangerous city in Ecuador.

Prosecutor César Suárez, who had carried out other high-profile investigations in the past, was shot while driving a vehicle, Attorney General Diana Salazar said.

"Organized crime groups, criminals, terrorists will not stop our commitment to society," she said in a video broadcast on X, formerly Twitter.

Thirteen alleged perpetrators have been arrested in the assault at TC Television, which was broadcast live and led President Daniel Noboa to declare that Ecuador is in an "internal armed conflict" amid a surge of killings and other crimes tied to drug trafficking.

Suárez was also in charge of the Metastasis case involving an Ecuadorian drug lord who allegedly received favorable treatment from judges, prosecutors, police officers and high officials.

Ecuadorian police said they were working to find those responsible for the murder of Suárez.

Ecuador has been rocked by a series of attacks, including the abductions of several police officers, in the wake of a notorious gang leader's apparent weekend escape from prison.

José Adolfo Macías Villamar, leader of Los Choneros, one of the Ecuadorian gangs considered responsible for a spike in car bombings, kidnappings and slayings, was discovered missing from his prison cell where he was serving a sentence for drug trafficking.

His disappearance earlier this month led the government to declare a state of emergency that involved sending the military into prisons, which sparked a wave of at least 30 attacks around the South American country, including the assault at the television station in Guayaquil.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press