Police in Ecuador have apprehended six men in connection with the murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. The Interior Ministry confirmed the arrests and stated that the authorities are still searching for the mastermind behind the assassination. The suspects, identified as Colombian nationals with ties to organized criminal groups, were taken into custody during a raid on a home in Quito. During the operation, a cache of weapons, including hand grenades, a submachine gun, pistols, and a rifle, was discovered.
Fernando Villavicencio, an anti-corruption activist and former lawmaker, was shot and killed in broad daylight at a campaign rally in the Ecuadorian capital. Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, and one of the assailants was killed in a shootout with the police later that day.
Additional details about the assassination have emerged, with President Guillermo Lasso revealing that one of the gunmen threw a grenade at the police while attempting to flee the scene. Fortunately, the device did not detonate, and it was safely detonated by officers in a controlled setting. A handgun was also found in the area.
In response to the murder, the government has implemented heightened security measures and declared a state of emergency. Police and soldiers have been deployed across the country to ensure the safety of the upcoming presidential race, which is scheduled to begin on August 20. The head of Ecuador’s election council, Diana Atamaint, emphasized that the election date is “unalterable” and that the Ecuadorian people’s vote will be the best response to the criminal groups involved.
President Lasso’s office has requested assistance from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and a delegation from the FBI is expected to arrive in Ecuador soon. The White House has condemned Villavicencio’s killing as “very shocking” and called for a thorough and transparent investigation.
The shooting also left nine others injured, including two police officers and another political candidate. This incident marks the first assassination of a presidential contender in Ecuador’s history, leading several other candidates to suspend their campaigns in the wake of the tragedy.
As investigations continue and security measures are strengthened, both the Ecuadorian government and international partners are working diligently to bring those responsible for Fernando Villavicencio’s murder to justice. The upcoming presidential election will proceed as planned, demonstrating the resilience and determination of the Ecuadorian people in the face of such a heinous crime.