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ECUADOR: Councillor killed one month after presidential candidate’s murder

AN Ecuadoran municipal councillor was kidnapped and killed in the latest political violence to rock the South American country just weeks before a presidential vote, officials said Friday.

Bolivar Vera, from Duran in the drug violence-hobbled Guayas province in Ecuador’s west, was found dead Friday in a wooded area, bloodied and with his hands tied, the prosecutor’s office said on social media. He had been shot.

Vera had been reported missing by his municipal colleagues on Thursday.

According to police official Paul Villavicencio, Vera’s body had “several gunshots apparently in the head and… chest.”

His killing comes after the assassination on August 9 of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio ahead of the first round of voting in Ecuador’s general election. A second round is scheduled for October 15.

A mayor, an MP and a local political leader have also been killed during the election campaign.

The country, until a few years ago a peaceful haven nestled between the world’s largest cocaine producers — Colombia and Peru — has recently descended into violence as it has itself become a hub for drug trafficking.

Rival gangs with links to Colombian and Mexican cartels regularly clash in prisons, with more than 430 inmates killed since 2021, often leaving a trail of burned and dismembered bodies.

The Ecuadoran city most affected by the violence has been the sprawling port of Guayaquil in the southwest, used by the fast-expanding drug trade to smuggle narcotics to Europe and the United States

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