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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 04:44 GMT 05:44 UK
Palestinian Iraq volunteer dies
Thaer Hussein Othman
Thaer Hussein Othman was killed as he travelled to Iraq
A Palestinian man has been buried in Beirut after being killed en route to fight for Iraq.

Thaer Hussein Othman, a Palestinian born in a refugee camp in Lebanon and living in Denmark, died on the journey from the Syrian border, on his way to support the Iraqi forces.

The bus in which he was travelling was attacked by a US Apache helicopter, and he later died of his wounds in a Baghdad hospital.

At his funeral in Beirut on Tuesday, volleys of shots were fired into the air and shops were closed as a sign of respect.

The dead man's brother said that Othman had left Denmark on the day that the US attack on Iraq began, "on a tourist trip to Syria. We didn't know he was in Iraq."

"He didn't have any political or party allegiances. He was married to a Danish woman, and has a child with her," the man's brother said.

Othman had emigrated to Denmark in 1987 when he was a schoolboy.

Suicide bombers

There have been reports of other Palestinians and people from across the Muslim world wanting to fight alongside the Iraqis, in what they see as a shared Islamic struggle.

Thaer Hussein Othman
Thaer Hussein Othman was killed in a helicopter attack

The AFP news agency quotes a Palestinian official as saying that hundreds of young radicals were travelling to fight with "the Iraqi people against the American-British invaders."

"Hundreds of fighters from the popular army, created in 1997, have already been sent to Iraq through bordering countries," said Munir Maqdah, head of the Fatah faction in south Lebanon.

In Beirut, there were reports of 36 Lebanese and Palestinian volunteers boarding a bus to take them to Iraq.

The militant Palestinian organisation, Islamic Jihad, also claimed to have sent suicide bombers to Iraq.

Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan says that some 6,000 people from across the Arab world have come to the country as volunteers.

And Iraqi embassy officials in countries including Sweden and Denmark say they have been contacted by Iraqi nationals living abroad wanting to return to fight.

The Iraqi embassy in Berlin said that it had received requests for visas from Egyptians, Lebanese, Moroccans and Palestinians, all wanting to fight for Iraq.


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