By Alexandra Valencia
QUITO (Reuters) -A shoot-out erupted on Saturday near a restaurant where Ecuadorean presidential candidate Otto Sonnenholzner was eating with his family, police and the candidate said, though the violence was not directed at him.
Ecuadoreans head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president and legislature after a campaign clouded by the assassination of anti-corruption candidate Fernando Villavicencio 10 days ago.
“We just suffered a shoot-out in front of the place where I was breakfasting with my family,” Sonnenholzner, a pro-market candidate and former vice president said on X, previously called Twitter. “Thank God we’re all well but we demand an investigation into what occurred.”
A video on social media showed Sonnenholzner greeting a supporter in a sunny restaurant in Guayaquil and preparing to take a selfie, before shots sound outside.
The national police said in a press conference the shoot-out was the result of a chase after a robbery in an exercise clothing store and that five people have been arrested.
Sonnenholzner has hardened his discourse around crime since the murder of Villavicencio, repeatedly promising his supporters that should he be elected, criminals who use violence against citizens will be shot by police.
Fellow presidential candidate Daniel Noboa on Thursday said there was an attack on his campaign caravan in Duran, but police later said the shooting was not directed at Noboa, son of prominent banana businessman and former presidential candidate Alvaro Noboa.
Meanwhile, Francisco Tamariz, the mayor of the coastal city of La Libertad, said on X on Saturday that shots were fired by police on Friday at a truck in which he and his wife were riding.
Police in Santa Elena province said in a press conference three armored cars without official logos avoided a police stop and officers eventually shot to stop the vehicles.
Three people from one of the cars were arrested and two unlicensed firearms were found, police said.
Tamariz said he would complain to the attorney general’s office.
The mayor of the Pacific port city of Manta, Agustin Intriago, was murdered in July. The police said on Friday morning they detained four people in his killing.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool)
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