Gunmen kill Ecuador prosecutor
A prosecutor in Ecuador was killed by gunmen on Thursday, the state attorney general’s office said, on the same day its chief received death threats.
Prosecutor Leonardo Palacios died “after an attack perpetrated against him today” in the town of Duran, near Guayaquil, the attorney general’s office said on Twitter.
Palacios was shot while driving after he had attended a murder trial hearing, the office said.
A secretary of the prosecutor’s office was also in the car but was unharmed, Duran police chief Jorge Hadathy told reporters.
Palacios was killed the same day that the state attorney general, Diana Salazar, received death threats in a video sent on Whatsapp that was broadcast by local media.
The video showed at least six people armed with rifles, dressed in black, and wearing caps to hide their faces.
“You’re about to have your birthday, I don’t want to ruin your party by killing your daughter,” said the voice of a man in the video.
Salazar is known for having prosecuted Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa for corruption.
As the gunmen point their rifles at the ground, the people in the video threatened to “send (Salazar) to hell to celebrate.”
The interior ministry ordered the attorney general’s security detail to be reinforced in response to the threats.
Ecuador is facing an increase in criminal violence and drug trafficking, with a homicide rate of 25 per 100,000 residents.
In April, President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in Guayaquil and the neighboring districts of Duran and Samborondon, as well as in Santa Elena and Los Rios provinces.
Lasso declared similar temporary states of emergency three times last year for Guayaquil, which has faced a sharp spike in killings related to organized crime.
In the first three months of this year, 555 homicides were reported just in Guayaquil, Duran and Samborondon.
Last year, two prosecutors and a judge were shot dead in different parts of the country.