Fernando Villavicencio
Fernando Villavicencio Fernando Villavicencio/Twitter

Fernando Villavicencio, an anti-corruption presidential candidate in Ecuador, was shot and killed at a political rally in the country's capital Quito on Wednesday.

The attack took place less than two weeks before the Aug. 20 election in the South American nation.

The country's president, Guillermo Lasso, confirmed the assassination of the 59-year-old politician, who was one of eight candidates.

Lasso tweeted, "Outraged and shocked by the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. My solidarity and condolences to his wife and daughters. For his memory and for his fight, I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished."

The president said he would hold a meeting with top security officials to "discuss this fact that has dismayed the country."

He also suggested organized crime was behind the assassination. "Organized crime has come a long way, but the full weight of the law is going to fall on them," he noted.

A suspect was held, but the person died of injuries following the arrest, Ecuador's attorney general's office said, as per the AP News.

The attorney general's office said a suspect, who was injured "during the shootout with security personnel, was apprehended and moved, badly injured, to the (attorney general's) unit in Quito."

"An ambulance from the fire department confirmed his death, the police are proceeding with collection of the cadaver," it added.

In a video that went viral on social media, Villavicencio could be seen surrounded by guards as he walked out of the event. He then got into a white vehicle, after which gunshots were heard.

Several others were injured in the armed attack at the Colegio Anderson in Quito, according to Al Jazeera.

Before the assassination, Villavicencio said he had received many death threats. Some were allegedly from leaders of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, which is an international organized crime group that now operates in Ecuador.

Villavicencio was the candidate for the Build Ecuador Movement, but he was not the frontrunner.

Ecuador is known to be a historically calm country, but cases of violence shot up in the past year. Violence has been linked to drug traffickers, who have flocked to the country. This has resulted in a rise in drug trafficking as well as violent killings and child recruitment by criminal groups.

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