Mayor of Ecuador's third largest city is shot dead

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The mayor of the Ecuadorian city of Manta, AgustĂ­n Intriago, was shot to death on Sunday while visiting a crowded neighborhood in that port, officials confirmed.

Intriago, a 38-year-old lawyer and political leader, belonged to the local movement called Better City. He was recently reappointed to his post, which he took over in May of this year. He was married and had two children.

On his Twitter account, the Minister of the Interior, Juan Zapata, expressed his solidarity with family and friends of the mayor of the third largest city in Ecuador "before his sensitive death due to an armed attack."

Zapata also reported that there is a collateral victim and four injured, two of whom would be implicated in the incident, for which reason they are receiving medical attention under police surveillance.

A reason for the attack was not immediately disclosed, but Intriago was one of eight mayors who already had police security after an analysis of their risk profiles. There are another 17 security requests in progress, the Association of Municipalities of Ecuador had reported this month.

The murder occurred when the mayor was visiting a construction site in the 15 de Septiembre neighborhood. During the tour, a 28-year-old athlete, identified as Ariana Chancay, was close to the official and was hit by one of the bullets, which caused her death.

“We are living in very difficult times… Violence, social belligerence, crime, have gained ground on us,” Intriago said a month ago, when he expressed his concern about the rampant violence in Ecuador.

President Guillermo Lasso regretted the event in his first reaction on Twitter, and said that he had instructed the highest police authority to activate the necessary contingent to locate those responsible and answer to justice. For their part, the police reported that specialized units were deployed on the scene.

The victim's sister, Ana Intriago, wrote on Twitter that "this crime cannot go unpunished... let's not let them win."

The mayor of Quito, Pabel Muñoz, lamented the death of Intriago and demanded that the national authorities act. "The country cannot continue to bleed to death, security must be its priority," he tweeted on his official account.

The city of Manta is located 260 kilometers southwest of the capital, in the province of ManabĂ­, whose coasts are designated as coveted routes for drug traffickers to carry large drug shipments to destinations in other parts of America and Europe, mainly.

Ecuador is facing the most serious crisis of insecurity and violence in its history, which broke out in 2021 in the country's main prisons and which authorities have attributed to the dispute between organized crime groups that operate inside and outside prisons.

In an attempt to contain the violence, the government has signed several state of emergency decrees, the latest in force in the coastal provinces, including ManabĂ­, where armed attacks, kidnappings, homicides committed by mercenaries, robberies, and extortion are constantly being recorded.

In May, Luis Chonillo, mayor of Durán in the province of Guayas, was the victim of an attack, but survived and currently works under police protection. In that same province, the mayor of Daule, Wilson Cañizares, denounced this month that he receives threats from the Litoral penitentiary, for which reason he has been assigned police protection.

In January, Javier Pincay, candidate for mayor of Portoviejo, in the province of ManabĂ­, was seriously injured after suffering an attack, from which he recovered after weeks of being in critical condition.

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