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Ecuador’s youngest mayor shot dead amid battle against gang violence

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Quito: Ecuador’s youngest mayor, Brigitte Garcia, was shot dead inside a vehicle on Sunday, according to the National Police.

The mayor of San Vicente, a city in western Ecuador’s Manabi province, was found dead along with Jairo Loor, an advisor and director of communication for the local government.

“Inside the car, ballistic evidence was collected” by forensic experts, the National Police said, adding that an investigation was underway to determine how and why the killings took place.

The mayor, the youngest politician in the country at the age of 27, was a member of the Citizen Revolution Movement led by former President Rafael Correa.

The killings came at a time when Ecuador is waging a battle against organised crime.

The country has declared a state of emergency and an “internal armed conflict” as it tries to dismantle 22 criminal gangs identified by the government as “terrorists” behind an unprecedented wave of violence.

Garcia is the second official murdered in Manabi in recent months. In July 2023, Agustin Intriago, mayor of Manta, was killed while touring one of the city’s neighborhoods.

Assassinations have been on the rise in Ecuador since presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was killed in an armed attack in August last year, following a political rally in the capital Quito.

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