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Letter Bombs Sent To Five News Stations In Violence-Plagued Ecuador To Kill, Silence Journalists

Letter Bombs Sent To Five News Stations In Violence-Plagued Ecuador To Kill, Silence Journalists
March 21, 2023

One of the letter bombs sent to at least five news stations in violence-plagued Ecuador on Monday allegedly in an attempt to kill and silence journalists exploded without causing serious injury.


CBS News reports that the prosecutor's office said it had opened an investigation into the crime of terrorism, but the office did not state why the news stations were specifically targeted, or by whom.


Ecuador's Interior Minister, Juan Zapata said the envelopes were sent from the town of Quimsaloma, in the coastal province of Los Rios, adding that three of the envelopes were sent to Guayaquil in the Southwest and two to the capital Quito.


Zapata said that the "device is indeed the same in all five places."


It was reported that in the port city of Guayaquil, journalist Lenin Artieda of the Ecuavisa private TV station received an envelope containing a pen drive which exploded when he inserted it into a computer.


Artieda’s employer said he sustained slight injuries to one hand and his face, said police official Xavier Chango. No one else was hurt.


Chango said the USB drive sent to Artieda could have been loaded with RDX, a military-type explosive.


Similarly, Zapata said that another package addressed to journalist Carlos Vera, was intercepted by the police at a courier company in Guayaquil and did not reach its destination.


Also, elsewhere in Guayaquil in Ecuador's southwest, the prosecutor's office said a letter bomb was also sent to the offices of TC Television.


Zapata said that there is "an absolutely clear message to silence journalists."


CBS News further reports that the Teleamazonas chain later said it had also received a USB stick at its offices in Quito "with the same characteristics" as the one sent to Ecuavisa.


The Fundamedios NGO which advocates for press freedom, said the three "attacks used the same modus operandi."


The Fundamedios said in a statement that envelopes with USB sticks were addressed to Artieda as well as to Mauricio Ayora of TC Television and Milton Perez of Teleamazonas, adding that the envelope addressed to Artieda contained a threat against the journalist.


It added that the one sent to Teleamazonas contained a note that claimed the stick contained information on "Correismo" -- a political movement named after former president Rafael Correa.


According to Fundamedios, the letters represented "a new escalation in violence against the press,” and it therefore called for "immediate intervention of the State."