Pedro Briones, a local leader of Revolución Ciudadana, the party of Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa, was shot and killed on Monday.
Brione’s murder was confirmed by Luisa González, the frontrunner in Sunday’s special presidential election and a member of the same party.
The fatal shooting was Ecuador’s third politics-related murder in the past four weeks. Last week, presidential candidate and anti-corruption crusader Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated while leaving a campaign event at a stadium in Quito.
His slaying followed the July 26 fatal shooting of 38-year-old Mayor Agustín Intriago of Manta, Ecuador’s third largest city.
Ecuador is experiencing its bloodiest era,” González posted on social media in announcing Briones’ murder. She has vowed to take a tough stance on crime if elected, including investments in equipment for law enforcement.
The three politicians are among thousands in Ecuador who’ve been killed in the past three years amid a rise in drug trafficking and cartel-aided street gangs.
This past Thursday, authorities arrested six Columbian men in Quito related to Villavicencio’s assassination. In the wake of his killing, current President Guillermo Lasso declared a two-month state of emergency in Ecuador, though he said the country’s general elections will be held as scheduled on Sunday.
The police report does not say whether the six Columbians were members of any organized group but Ecuador’s Interior Minister Juan Zapata said they were linked to organized crime.
The shooting of Briones occurred in Ecuador’s northern province of Esmeraldas. Details of the crime were not immediately available.