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British scientist shot and killed in Ecuador

A British scientist studying a species of monkey in Ecuador was shot and killed by a local resident who mistook him for a trespasser coming to take his land, police said.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2009 07:49 IST

A British scientist studying a species of monkey in Ecuador was shot and killed by a local resident who mistook him for a trespasser coming to take his land, police said.

Ben Samphire, 31, was killed Monday near the village of Palmar, 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Quito on Ecuador's Pacific coast, where he had planned to study a rare species of howler monkey in the wild, police Capt Michel Davalos yesterday said by telephone to The Associated Press.

"The author of the killing didn't want to lose his land and when he saw the scientist taking photographs he mistook him for a land invader and shot him," Davalos said.

Davalos said the suspect fled and is being sought by police. The police captain declined to give the suspect's name but said a colleague of Samphire witnessed the shooting.

Samphire had a PhD from University College London.

His body has been transferred to the port of Manta, from where it will be sent back to England, Davalos said.