Six Colombian nationals who are gang members have been arrested in connection with the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. Villavicencio, who was an anti-corruption campaigner, was shot dead at a campaign rally in Quito. The killing occurred just 10 days before the first round of the presidential election. Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso has requested help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and has announced a state of emergency for 60 days. The assassination has prompted condemnation from around the world, including from the UN Human Rights chief, the United States, and the European Union. Ana Canizares,Sahar Akbarzai,Anna Gorzowska,Helen Regan reported
Six individuals who have been arrested in connection with the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio are confirmed to be Colombian nationals and members of organized criminal groups, according to authorities. Villavicencio, a prominent campaigner against corruption and drug trafficking violence, was shot dead at a campaign rally in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The killing took place just days before the first round of the presidential election. Following an exchange of fire with security personnel, the suspected shooter died while in police custody. Six other suspects were apprehended in relation to the crime. Ecuador’s Interior Minister, Juan Zapata, stated that the suspects are Colombian nationals and members of organized criminal groups. During overnight raids, authorities discovered several weapons, including a rifle, a machine gun, and pistols, as well as grenades, ammunition, and stolen vehicles believed to have been used by the perpetrators. In response to the assassination, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso requested assistance from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and announced a state of emergency for 60 days. He also mobilized the armed forces across the country and declared three days of national mourning. The assassination has garnered international condemnation and calls for action to address the escalating violence in Ecuador. Otto Sonnenholzner, the former vice president of Ecuador and a current presidential candidate, described the level of violence in the country as unprecedented and called for concrete government action. Sonnenholzner highlighted the influence of drug dealers and traffickers in various institutions, including the judiciary, police, and local governments. He noted that Villavicencio had previously received threats from organized crime groups but had not been adequately protected. Sonnenholzner suspended his public campaign events and arranged for private security in light of the situation. Despite the tragic event, Ecuador’s presidential election is expected to proceed as scheduled, with Sonnenholzner requesting a postponement of the televised presidential debate to allow Villavicencio’s party to find a new candidate..