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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Files detail plot against Ecuador's president

Associated Press, 13 June, 2008

QUITO, ECUADOR — Two Colombians arrested in an alleged plot against President Rafael Correa claimed to have links to Colombian paramilitaries and said they were offered $1.5 million to kill him, according to security officials and police documents.

Police in Ecuador's capital arrested four men — three Colombians and an Ecuadorean — in a hotel near the presidential palace on Thursday. Officials said the men were planning to assassinate the president, but Correa suggested the suspects may have been con men.

On Friday, The Associated Press obtained Ecuadorean police documents in which the two Colombians purportedly acknowledge having links to Colombia's right-wing paramilitaries.

In the documents, they say they were offered $1.5 million to kill Ecuador's leftist president but don't specifically say who offered the money.

Police Capt. Edgar Vinueza was quoted in documents as saying the suspects were planning to fire a rocket at a plaza across from the presidential palace to create a commotion. When the Correa's bodyguards escorted him away from the palace, snipers would then shoot the president. Vinueza also said the alleged attack was to take place on June 20.

Colombia's defense minister, Juan Manual Santos, has said the suspects are drug traffickers with ties to leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas.

Correa ended diplomatic relations with Colombia after Colombian forces bombed a FARC camp on Ecuadorean soil March 1, killing a guerrilla leader and inflaming regional tensions.

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