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Saudi King Fahd dead

Riyadh, August 1
Saudi Arabia’s ruler, King Fahd, died early today in a Riyadh hospital and his brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, has been announced the country’s new monarch, the Saudi royal court announced in a statement.

“With all sorrow and sadness, the royal court in the name of his highness Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and all members of the family announces the death of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz,” according to a statement read out on state-run Saudi TV by the country’s information minister.

Saudi TV, which said the King was 84 years of age, broke with regular broadcasting to announce Fahd’s death. Quranic verse recitals followed the announcement by the minister, Iyad bin Amin Madani, whose voice wavered with emotion as he read the statement.

“He died after suffering an illness,” Madani said in the statement. “God allows the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahd, with great mercy and forgiveness to reside in his wide heaven.”

Fahd died at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he was admitted on May 27 for unspecified medical tests, an official at the hospital told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity as news of the monarch’s death had not been officially announced at the time.

Funeral prayers will be held tomorrow at Riyadh’s Turk bin Abdullah mosque for the late King, who had suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995 that confined him mainly to a figurehead role in the kingdom.

His half brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, has been Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader since then and has led the country’s battle against Islamic extremism and terrorism.

The Saudi statement said members of the oil-rich country’s royal family had “pledged allegiance” to Abdullah to take over as King and an official ceremony was expected to be held Wednesday to confirm his succession.

At the time of Fahd’s widely publicized hospitalization that caused concern at home and abroad, officials said he was suffering from pneumonia and a high fever.

In recent weeks, Saudi officials have been saying that Fahd’s health had been improving and was even preparing to leave hospital.

The King brought the kingdom, holder of the world’s largest oil reserves and home to Islam’s holiest shrines of Mecca and Medina, closer to the USA during more than two decades as monarch. —AP



7-day mourning in Pakistan

Islamabad, August 1
Pakistan today announced an official mourning of seven days on the demise of Saudi King Fahd.

“The National Flag will fly at half-mast during this period,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Naeem Khan said at his weekly Press briefing.

He said the King was a great statesman, who dedicatedly worked for international peace. — UNI


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