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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 July, 2003, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Iranian twins laid to rest
The body of Laleh Bijani is carried for burial
The twins were buried side-by-side but in separate graves
The conjoined Iranian twins Laleh and Ladan Bijani, who died during an operation to separate them, have been buried in their home village.

Thousands of mourners gathered to pay their respects as the twins were interred in separate graves in the south-western village of Lohrasb.

Villagers placed photographs and placards on lamp posts and buildings in tribute to the women, who captured the nation's hearts.

The biological father of the 29-year-old twins, Dadollah Bijani, told reporters he was overwhelmed by the hundreds of people who had come to pay their respects.

The twins died in Singapore on Tuesday after a three-day operation to separate their heads.

In their wills, they donated all their personal belongings to blind children and orphans.

Ladan (left) and Laleh Bijani

Their deaths sparked widespread mourning in Iran, as well as in Singapore, where they spent seven months preparing for the operation.

An Iranian Government official has proposed that the twins' birthday, 31 December, be declared a "National Day of Love".

Rahim Ebadi, head of the National Youth Organisation, suggested the idea in a letter to President Mohammad Khatami, the English-language Iran Daily reported.

The bodies of the twins arrived in their home village on Friday from the capital Tehran where hundreds of mourners had filed past their coffins in the Grand Mosque.

Surgeon's warning

The twins left the village at a young age to live in the capital with their adoptive parents, from whom they became estranged in recent years. The adoptive parents did not agree with the twins' decision to have the operation.

The twins' biological parents, who had been too poor to look after them, were among the mourners who took part in a ceremony at Shiraz airport to accept the twin's coffins.

Ladan and Laleh died from loss of blood within 90 minutes of each other, in what was the first attempt to separate adult twins born joined at the head.

A US-based neurosurgeon who was present during the operation told the BBC on Saturday that he would not recommend a similar operation.

"With the knowledge that has been gained here, I would not do it the same way," Dr Benjamin Carson, of Johns Hopkins Children's Center, told the BBC World Service.

"I wouldn't be enthusiastic about it and I would probably discourage people from it."

But he was optimistic that lessons learned from the operation would one day make it possible for a successful operation.

The sisters were fully aware of the risks of surgery and had spent years looking for surgeons prepared to try to separate them.

The BBC's Jim Muir
"The huge turnout was a fitting salute to Laleh and Ladan"

Iranian twins die in surgery
08 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Surgeons' sorrow at death of twins
08 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Message from Bijani twins
06 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Conjoined twins
06 Jul 03  |  Medical notes
Mourning the loss of the twins
08 Jul 03  |  Middle East
Iranian press bids sad farewell
12 Jul 03  |  Middle East

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