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QUITO: A local politician in Ecuador was killed Monday, party officials said, less than a week after a presidential front-runner was gunned down at a campaign rally ahead of this weekend’s elections.

Pedro Briones, a member of the Citizen Revolution Party of former president Rafael Correa, and one of the movement’s leaders in the province of Esmeraldas on the border with Colombia, was killed by unknown gunmen.

“My solidarity with the family of comrade Pedro Briones, new victim of violence,” Luisa Gonzalez, one of the main presidential candidates, said on X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter.

“Ecuador is going through its bloodiest period,” said Gonzalez, a close former associate of Correa. She called the government inept and said the country has been taken over by organized crime gangs.

Correa added his condolences on social media: “They murdered another of our colleagues in Esmeraldas. Enough is enough!”

Neither the police nor the government immediately confirmed the attack but Ecuadoran media, citing a local police source, said the victim was shot at his home in the town of San Mateo by two men on a motorcycle who later fled.

The murder came less than a week after the August 9 killing, in the capital Quito, of one of the presidential favorites, the centrist Fernando Villavicencio.

The 59-year-old journalist was on a crusade against corruption and was in second place in the polls when he was shot as he left a campaign rally.

One of his main feats as a journalist was to have put the former president Correa, who served from 2007-2017, in the dock thanks to one of his investigations.

Correa, now living in Belgium, was sentenced in absentia to eight years in the case.

Most of Ecuador has been under a state of emergency and President Guillermo Lasso has blamed organized crime for the killing of Villavicencio.

Six Colombians were arrested as part of the probe into the assassination and one was killed shortly after the attack by the candidate’s bodyguards.


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