A city council candidate in western Colombia was murdered Wednesday, raising the number of local candidates killed this year to 11, Colombian media reported.
Gabriel Castillo Peña, a Conservative Party candidate, was shot dead in his store in El Dovio, a municipality in the department of Valle Del Cauca. Two assailants shot him several times, including once in the head.
The victim was a police inspector for 20 years and spent time with the Colombia’s civil defense organization.
Mayor of El Dovio Jose Padilla has said the motive for the murder is unknown. He acknowledged that candidates in the area are being threatened by drug lords, former paramilitaries, and guerrilla groups, reported AFP.
The governor of Valle, expressing concern about the second candidate killed in his department in four days, has asked authorities to quickly find a motive to help bring the criminals to justice.
“Reports of the ombudsman revealed that there are continuing threats against candidates for elected office in El Dovio, forcing the police to strengthen measures to enure the effectiveness that is required for the right to life of candidates and deter the risk of threats,” a police official said.
With local elections in October coming closer, Valle del Cauca assembly president Ana Milena Ortiz has urged election candidates and political leaders to take caution and increase security measures.
The Defense Ministry and the National Electoral Council released a study earlier this year said 10% of the 1,100 municipalities in Colombia are at risk of corruption and violence due to the local elections.
The Valle governor has asked for the elections in October to be suspended.