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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Saudi King Fahd is laid to rest
The King's shrouded body was carried by relatives

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who died on Monday, has been buried after a funeral service in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The Saudi royal family and Muslim leaders from around the world gathered at Riyadh's grand mosque where the funeral prayers were said.

King Fahd's body arrived at the mosque by ambulance, draped in a brown robe.

After the prayers, the body was carried to a cemetery for burial in an unmarked grave, in keeping with Wahhabism, the kingdom's strict version of Islam.

Security has been beefed up across the capital where foreign dignitaries had gathered to pay their respects.

Militant problem

Among those paying tribute to the king, who had ruled since 1982, were Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, French President Jacques Chirac and Jordan's King Abdullah.

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia

In the past two years, Saudi Arabia has suffered terror attacks carried out by Islamist militants allied to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and security was massively increased for the funeral with thousands of troops and police deployed throughout the capital.

Roads leading to the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque, where the funeral took place, were closed and police with sniffer dogs and x-ray equipment checked vehicles.

The king had been frail since suffering a stroke in 1995 and had delegated his powers to Crown Prince Abdullah.

Call for loyalty

An official ceremony confirming Abdullah as king is due to be held on Wednesday.

Born in Riyadh in 1923
Appointed education minister in 1953, then became interior minister, and later deputy prime minister and Crown Prince
Ascended to the throne in 1982
Added the title Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to his name in 1986
Invited US troops into Saudi Arabia in 1990 to counter the threat of Iraqi invasion
Suffered a series of strokes in 1995

His smooth succession has been widely expected, analysts say.

The country's top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, has called on all Saudis to pledge allegiance to the new king and his brother, Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who has been named Crown Prince.

The new king, who is also the prime minister, has already issued a decree saying the current government will keep their positions.

As King Fahd's short funeral ceremony, led by the Grand Mufti, took place in the capital Riyadh, prayers were said in mosques across the desert kingdom.

The King's body was wrapped in a brown robe and carried on a wooden stretcher by male members of the Saudi royal family.

Some mourners carried umbrellas to shade them from the intense summer heat, while others crowded round the bier, keen to touch the body as it passed.

King Fahd was buried alongside commoners and former kings, including half brothers Saud, Faisal and Khaled, in the al-Oud cemetery, some 5km (3 miles) from the mosque.

No mausoleum

The late king bore the title "custodian of the two holy mosques" in Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest sites.

King Fahd was a man of great vision and leadership who inspired his countrymen for a quarter of a century as king, and for many more before that
Tony Blair
UK prime minister

But in keeping with Wahhabism, which guards against idolatry, he will have no tomb or engraved headstone, just a simple stone marking the spot where he lies.

"His grave will be like the grave of all Muslims... There is no difference between him and other Muslims," the Grand Mufti said.

Flags were not flown at half-mast because the green Saudi flag is inscribed with Islam's testament of faith and lowering it would be considered blasphemous.

Vocal expressions of grief had been banned and shops, restaurants and ministries in the desert kingdom remained open, but correspondents say the mood among the populace is very sombre.

Watch King Fahd being laid to rest in Riyadh

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