Police in Quito arrested three Colombians and one Ecuadoran in an alleged plot to assassinate President Rafael Correa. Two were arrested on the capital’s Independence Plaza, where Carondelet presidential palace is located. The suspects were detained by agents of the elite Anti-Kidnapping Unit (UNASE), and had numerous photos of the palace and maps of the square. Ecuadorean Security Minister Gustavo Larrea told Caracol Radio the suspects were carrying weapons, but failed to say what kind. Spanish press agency EFE said one of the Colombians confessed to be from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary network. Prosecutor General Washington Pezantes said the men were being investigated for their links to armed groups. But Correa himself raised the possibility they are “simply scam-artists” (estafadores).
Larrea dismissed claims Colombian President Álvaro Uribe is behind a plot on Correa’s life, but speculated it could be an effort to disturb efforts by the Ecuadoran and Colombian governments to re-establish diplomatic ties. Ecuador broke off ties after a Colombian cross-border attack on a FARC camp March 1. He said he had asked the Colombian government to supply information about the detainees. (Colombia Reports, BBC, EFE, El Comercio, Quito, June 12)
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