Journalists from Ecuador were recently targeted by explosive devices delivered to them via mail. At least five journalists in the country were delivered explosive devices masked to look like USB drives.
One TV Presenter Injured In An Explosion
According to a report from BBC, one TV presenter named Lenin Artieda was injured in the explosion after receiving the envelope containing a trapped USB drive. Artieda said that he received a USB drive in an envelope, which he proceeded to plug into his computer in the middle of the newsroom. The device detonated immediately after establishing contact, injuring the presenter.
The country’s police reacted quickly, warning other reporters and news stations of the incident. Reports say that at least five similar shipments sent to other news outlets were discovered in total, including the one sent to Artieda. However, Artieda was the only one injured by the trapped devices, while others were either never opened or they failed to explode.
Ecuador’s Attorney-General Opens Terrorism Investigation
While the local police have been searching for additional explosives that may have been sent to other news outlets, the Ecuadorean attorney-general opened a terrorism investigation into the letters. The country’s government immediately condemned the incident, revealing its stance that freedom of expression is a right that must not be endangered.
The government added that attempts to intimidate journalists or journalism is a “loathsome action” and that it will be punished “with all the rigor of justice.”
While the investigation remains ongoing, and the authorities could not share all of the findings, some details were released to the public. Juan Zapata, the country’s interior minister, revealed that the devices were sent from the same town.
Two of the five devices discovered so far were sent to media companies located in Quito, the country’s capital. Three more devices were sent to media outlets in Guayaquil. One of the devices was sent to TC Television, and upon locating it, the police were able to carry out a controlled detonation.
Another detail of the investigation confirmed by Xavier Chango, Ecuador’s head of forensic science revealed that the devices were armed with military-type explosives.
A Rise In Gang Violence
Ecuador has also suffered from a significant increase in violence, believed to be a result of competition between drug trafficking gangs. The country has been used as a cocaine-smuggling route from Colombia and Peru. Recently, the situation saw a turn for the worse, leading to a sharp rise in murders and other crimes.
The rise in violence was particularly noticeable in Guayaquil, the country’s second-largest city, which is also where three of the five explosive USB drives were sent.