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Afghanistan buries its last king

July 24, 2007 (BBC News): The funeral is under way in Afghanistan of the country's last king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, who died on Monday aged 92.

Flags are at half mast during three days of mourning for the former monarch, who returned from exile in 2002, 29 years after being deposed.

Representatives from all over the world are attending the ceremony for the man known as the father of the nation.

Meanwhile, there has been fresh violence in the country, with six Nato-led troops being killed.

Officials say that scores of Taleban rebels have also reportedly been killed in fighting.

Tributes

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kabul says many see the former king as a symbol of the national unity since lost amid violence.

A guard of honour carried the former king's coffin draped in the Afghan flag to a viewing stand under a shade of pine trees at the palace grounds.

His body was being taken to a Kabul mosque before burial in a hilltop shrine above the city next to his late wife.

Television and radio stations in Afghanistan are broadcasting Islamic recitations interspersed with tributes to the ex-king.

These include old footage of Zahir Shah's 40-year reign, which began in the year Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany.

The new British Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, is among those attending. He flew into Kabul earlier on Tuesday on a pre-planned trip, his first official visit abroad in his new post.

Tributes to the former king have been sent from around the world.

US President George Bush described him as "a monumental figure in Afghan history."