Ecuador mayor survives assassination attempt

Francisco Tamariz escaped unharmed from the Friday evening attack.

Published - August 20, 2023 02:44 am IST - Quito

The mayor of an Ecuadorian city said Saturday he was the victim of an attempted assassination, a day before the country goes to the polls in general elections.

Francisco Tamariz, the mayor of the coastal town of La Libertad, said he escaped unharmed from the Friday evening attack, in which gunmen fired 30 shots at his vehicle.

"They tried to kill me," Tamariz said on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that more than eight people had witnessed the shooting.

Ecuador will hold a presidential election Sunday after a campaign marked by the murder of a top candidate and vows to tackle the lawlessness that has engulfed the country.

The small South American nation has in recent years become a playground for foreign drug mafias seeking to export cocaine from its shores, stirring up a brutal war between local gangs.

The murder rate has soared above that of Mexico and Colombia, and the assassination of several politicians in the run-up to the vote underscored the challenges facing Ecuador's leaders.

The most high-profile among them was presidential candidate and anti-corruption crusader Fernando Villavicencio, gunned down in broad daylight as he left a political rally just days ahead of the vote.

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