Two supporters of President Rafael Correa were knifed to death at a campaign re-election rally, an incident the Ecuadoran leader said Tuesday was unrelated to politics.
An unidentified suspect was arrested at the scene of the attack late on Monday in a packed stadium in the town of Quininde, 200km northwest of Quito.
An amateur video aired on local media showed a man armed with a large knife pushing into a crowd of Correa supporters, and attacking them apparently at random before attempting to flee.
The victims - Aurelio Vivero, 28, and Gregoria Poroza, 63 - were pronounced dead after being rushed to a clinic in a nearby town. A man and three women also were injured in the attack.
Correa, who is the favourite in the February 17 election, visited the injured and grieving relatives.
“This is a tragedy, but it is an isolated act by a demented man,” Correa told reporters, saying the assailant apparently was a drug user who “in a state of complete alienation began slashing right and left.”
Correa’s campaign director Galo Mora said Correa decided to suspend the campaign “out of respect for the victims of this attack.”
The president however said that campaigning would resume on Wednesday.
Witnesses told the daily El Comercio of Quito that the suspect was drunk and had been beaten up and thrown out for insulting women at the rally. The man then returned the knife to exact revenge on his assailants.