Local journalists report receiving envelopes containing small explosives disguised as everyday electronic devices.
Journalists from several news outlets in Ecuador have received envelopes containing electronic devices loaded with explosives, the attorney general’s office said Monday, adding that it has opened a terrorism investigation.
The envelopes all had similar characteristics and the same contents and will therefore be jointly investigated, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement, without naming the media organizations involved.
One of the devices partially exploded on Ecuavisa television in Guayaquil, when journalist Lenin Artieda connected the device to his computer. He suffered minor injuries, according to police.
“It’s a military-type explosive, but very small capsules,” said Xavier Chango, the national head of forensic science, referring to the explosive sent to Ecuavisa.
Police carried out a controlled detonation of a device sent to TC Television’s news department, also in Guayaquil, prosecutors said earlier on Monday.
Fundamedios, a regional free speech advocacy group, said a third television station and radio station in Quito had also received envelopes containing explosives.
The government said it would defend freedom of expression in the country.
“Any attempt to intimidate journalism and freedom of expression is an abhorrent action that must be punished with all the rigors of justice,” it said in a statement.
President Guillermo Lasso has attributed the increase in violence, including within the prison system, to competition between drug trafficking gangs for territory and control.
Ecuador is used as a transit point for cocaine transported to the United States and Europe.
Television channel Teleamazonas said one of its journalists received an anonymous envelope on Thursday and upon opening it discovered a device, which police confirmed contained explosives.