Ecuador says six suspects arrested for presidential candidate assassination are Colombian | CNN

"Six suspects arrested in connection with the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio are Colombian nationals and gang members, authorities have confirmed, as a former vice president demanded action over spiraling levels of violence in the South American country.

Villavicencio, an anti-corruption campaigner and lawmaker who was outspoken about the violence caused by drug trafficking in the country, was shot dead at a campaign rally in the capital Quito on Wednesday.

The killing of the 59-year-old came 10 days before the first round of the presidential election was set to take place. Villavicencio’s campaign had promised a crackdown on crime and corruption amid a deadly escalation of violence that has gripped Ecuador in recent years.

The suspected shooter died in police custody following an exchange of fire with security personnel, Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday.

Six others were arrested in connection with the killing. Ecuador’s Interior Minister Juan Zapata said in a news conference Thursday that the suspects are members of organized criminal groups, citing preliminary evidence.

He later confirmed to CNN the suspects are Colombian nationals. The nationality of the suspected gunman is not yet clear.

During overnight raids, authorities found a rifle, a machine gun, four pistols, three grenades, two rifle magazines, four boxes of ammunition, two motorcycles, and a stolen vehicle believed to have been used by the men, Zapata said.

The attack prompted Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso to request help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, and he tweeted that a delegation would soon be arriving in the country. "

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