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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
State funeral for Macedonia star
Soldiers bearing the coffin of Tose Proeski
Fans paid their last tribute to Tose Proeski in his hometown
Thousands of Macedonians have attended the funeral of one of the country's biggest stars, singer Tose Proeski, who died in a car crash on Tuesday.

Proeski, 26, was buried with full state honours, including a gun salute, in his native town of Krusevo.

Police said the singer's car collided with a lorry on a road in Croatia.

Proeski represented Macedonia in the 2004 Eurovision contest and had a large following in nearby countries that were once part of Yugoslavia.

His music avoided the nationalistic themes favoured by some of his contemporaries in the region and this bolstered his popularity beyond his country's borders, the editor of the BBC's Macedonian service says.

A classically-trained musician, Proevski sang mostly about love.

While younger fans admired him for his looks and voice, an older generation praised his wholesome image and religious faith.

'Too young'

People from across Macedonia as well as several neighbouring countries travelled to Krusevo to attend Proeski's funeral.

People light candles in Skopje on 16 October 2007

Macedonia's top government officials and foreign dignitaries, including the US envoy to Skopje, were also present.

"He left too young, as a legend," Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski told the mourners, many of whom were weeping.

Proeski's coffin - draped in Macedonia's national flag - was then lowered into the ground to the gun salute.

Earlier, his body was flown to Krusevo by helicopter from Croatia.

Thursday was also declared a national day of mourning for the singer.

Proeski was killed after the car he was travelling in hit a lorry and crashed into a barrier on the Zagreb-Belgrade motorway.

Two other people were hurt in the crash near the eastern town of Nova Gradiska.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I'm in shock. Macedonia has lost its greatest cultural ambassador
Vojo Mihajloski, Tetovo, Macedonia

Parliament in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, cancelled its session when the news reached it on Wednesday.

Thousands of shocked fans later gathered in the capital, lighting candles and placing flowers in makeshift shrines.

The tragic death of the singer is dominating the news in the tiny Balkan country, with TV and radio stations playing Proeski's songs back-to-back.

"Macedonia and the Balkans lost an angel," said the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Stefan.

Megastar

Proeski started his career aged 15, releasing his first album at 18.

Tose Proeski
Proeski's fame transcended ethnic divisions in the Balkans
He had several number one hits in four former Yugoslav republics - Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia.

Among Proeski's hits were Cija Si (Whose Are You?) and Ako Me Poglednes Vo Oci (If You Look Me In The Eyes).

He sang both in Macedonian and in Serbian and was seen as a bridge between people in a region recently divided by ethnic conflict, correspondents say.

Proeski was also a Unicef goodwill ambassador promoting humanitarian projects in the Balkans.

Some 30,000 people attended what was his last concert in Skopje on 5 October.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Images of Tose Proeski and his music



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