Fernando Villavicencio
Ecuadorean presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio during a campaign rally in Quito, Ecuador. He was shot on the same day as this photo was taken, August 9, 2023 Image Credit: Reuters

QUITO: Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has been shot and killed, the country’s president confirmed on Thursday.

He was shot to death by gunmen at a political rally in Quito, less than two weeks prior to the Ecuador elections, according to police.

Villavicencio (59) was shot several times as he left the rally at a high school in Quito, General Manuel Iniguez, a deputy commander of the Ecuadorean national police said, according to The Washington Post. He was taken to a nearby clinic, where he was pronounced dead.

A police officer was also injured in the attack, General Manuel Iniguez said. The gunmen also launched a grenade towards Villavicencio’s group. However, the grenade did not explode, The Washington Post reported.

Villavicencio was a member of Ecuador’s National Assembly before it was dissolved in May. He was one of the leading candidates in the first round of voting set to be conducted on August 20 to succeed Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso.

During the election campaign, the candidates focused on rising violence in Ecuador. Guillermo Lasso called the snap elections after dissolving the National Assembly and avoiding impeachment.