New Shooting Mars Election Campaign In Ecuador

[BBC] A candidate in Sunday’s presidential election in violence-hit Ecuador has called for an investigation after shooting erupted near a restaurant where he was having breakfast.

Otto Sonnenholzner, a conservative politician, was with his family and supporters when shots rang out.

He is not believed to have been the target. But the campaign has been marred by a surge in gang attacks.

Candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated in the capital last week.

The incident involving Mr Sonnenholzner, 40, occurred on Saturday in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city.

A video posted on social media shows the former-vice president talking to supporters in the restaurant before shots are heard, sowing panic. Local journalists said there was robbery in the vicinity.

Afterwards, Mr Sonnenholzner tweeted: “Thank God we are all fine but we demand an investigation into what happened… We can’t go on like this.”

While no other presidential candidate has been directly targeted since Mr Villavicencio’s murder in Quito, shootouts like this serve to demonstrate just how dangerous Ecuador has become.

They are, sadly, part of everyday life, especially in cities like Guayaquil which has been overrun by drug-traffickers.

Earlier this week, a similar thing happened during the campaign event of fellow candidate Daniel Noboa. And a local politician was shot dead in northern Esmeraldas province.

Candidates are eager to highlight these dangers ahead of the vote.

The shooting of Fernando Villavicencio upended campaigning, with candidates now very much focusing on peace and security – because that is what every Ecuadorean wants to be reassured about.

Bulletproof vests are also making more of an appearance on the campaign trail – and many candidates dialled down their closing campaign events, with many Ecuadoreans exercising a huge amount of caution ahead of the elections.

There is real fear of more violence to come as people get ready to vote.

Mr Villavicencio was an outspoken journalist who had uncovered corruption and denounced links between organised crime and officials.

Six men have been arrested in connection with his assassination, all of them Colombian citizens.

In another development on Saturday, the mayor of the coastal town of La Libertad said he had been the target of an assassination attempt.

Mayor Francisco Tamariz said gunmen had fired 30 shots at his vehicle on Friday night, but he escaped unharmed.

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