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Paraguay presidential hopeful Oviedo dies in crash

ASUNCION, Paraguay — Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Cesar Oviedo has been killed in a helicopter crash, authorities said Sunday, ending a dramatic political career that included coups and repeated attempts to lead this impoverished country of more than 6 million people.

Oviedo was returning with his bodyguard from a political rally in north Paraguay on Saturday when his pilot ran into bad weather. All three were killed in the crash, said Johnny Villalba, a spokesman for Paraguay’s airport authority.

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Defense Minister Maria Liz Garcia said she traveled to the scene Sunday with Oviedo’s daughter, congresswoman Fabiola Oviedo, and confirmed the helicopter ‘‘disintegrated.’’

The air traffic control tower in the provincial city of Concepcion received the pilot’s last communication, Garcia said — a brief message that they were changing course because of a storm at 9 p.m. local time.

Lino Oviedo, 69, was running in April’s elections as leader of Paraguay’s third-largest opposition party, the National Union of Ethical Citizens. Although authorities called his death an accident, officials in his party questioned whether Oviedo had been assassinated.

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