A candidate in Ecuador’s forthcoming presidential election who has campaigned against corruption and gangs has been shot dead at a campaign rally.

Fernando Villavicencio, a member of the country’s national assembly, was attacked as he left the event in the capital, Quito, on Wednesday.

He is one of the few candidates to allege links between organised crime and government officials in Ecuador.

A state of emergency has been declared following the assassination.

Ecuador has historically been a relatively safe and stable country in Latin America, but a recent rise in violent crime – fuelled by the growing presence of drug cartels – has been a central issue in this year’s presidential campaign.

Witnesses said Mr Villavicencio, a serving congressman and former journalist, was shot three times.

A member of his campaign team told local media the 59-year-old was getting into a car when a man stepped forward and shot him in the head.

Video from inside the building shows panicked supporters diving for cover and campaign leaflets littered across a blood-stained floor.

The suspect was also shot in an exchange of bullets with security and later died from his injuries, the country’s attorney general said on social media.

In the chaos, nine other people were injured, including a candidate for the country’s assembly and two police officers, prosecutors said.

Six people have been detained by police in connection with the assassination after raids in Quito, they added.

The first round of the presidential election is scheduled to take place on 20 August.

Mr Villavicencio, who was married and had five children, was one of eight candidates in the first round of the election – although he was not the frontrunner and was polling around the middle of the pack.

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As well as security, Mr Villavicencio’s campaign had focused on tackling corruption, a topic he had covered in an earlier career as a journalist, and reducing environmental destruction.

Last week, he said he and his team had been threatened by the leader of a gang linked to drug-trafficking.

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