Protests in Ecuador after presidential hopeful killed

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STORY: An Ecuadorean presidential candidate was assassinated in the capital Quito on Wednesday.

Outraged protesters rallied outside the clinic where Fernando Villavicencio died after he was shot at a campaign event hours earlier.

His killing comes just ten days before Ecuador is due to head to the polls.

Several other marches kicked off in other cities, including Villavicencio’s hometown of Alausi.

Villavicencio’s sister Patricia said she was behind her brother when the shooting happened.

She described hearing about ‘" hundred shots, like lights". Local media reported some 30 shots had been fired.

The attorney general’s office meanwhile said a suspect in the crime later died of injuries sustained in a shoot-out. It also said six people had been arrested in connection with the crime.

The violence injured nine others, including a candidate for the legislature and two police officers.

President Guillermo Lasso called the shooting “a political crime, which has the character of terrorism”.

He declared a national state of emergency, adding that the military would mobilize to guarantee security. The country will observe three days of mourning, but the election will go ahead as planned, he said.

Lasso has blamed rising violence on the streets and in prisons on drug cartels and other organized crime.

Villavicencio, a former lawmaker and journalist, was also a staunch critic of corruption and organized crime.

His party had discussions about whether to suspend campaigning due to what it called political violence, but Villavicencio opposed the move, saying it would be an act of cowardice.

Other presidential hopefuls reacted with horror to the murder. Some suspended their electoral campaigns and denounced the violence.