Activist killed in police raid during Paraguay riots

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People ram a barrier into the Paraguayan Congress building during clashes between police and protesters in Asuncion. (Jorge Saenz, AP)
People ram a barrier into the Paraguayan Congress building during clashes between police and protesters in Asuncion. (Jorge Saenz, AP)

Asuncion - A Paraguayan opposition political activist was shot in the head and killed when police raided his party headquarters during riots against a contested electoral reform, the movement's leader said on Saturday.

Rodrigo Quintana, 25, leader of the opposition Liberal Party's youth branch was shot as police searched the premises, party leader Efrain Alegre told reporters.

The interior ministry said in a statement that "the authorities are investigating the circumstances of the death, which is presumed to have occurred at the hands of a member of the National Police."

Police raided the party offices after activists took refuge there during a night of riots, Alegre said.

Furious protesters broke into the Congress late on Friday, ransacking lawmakers' offices and starting fires after senators approved a reform to allow the president to run for re-election.

The unrest left about 30 people injured, including three lawmakers, according to firefighters and an opposition senator.

Right-wing President Horacio Cartes is seeking to reform the constitution to enable himself to run for office again in an election in 2018 after his current term ends.

His opponents say it will clear the way for a return to dictatorship in Paraguay, a South American nation of about 6.8 million people.

Paraguay has banned re-election since 1992 in an attempt to avoid a return to dictatorships like that of general Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled from 1954 to 1989.

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