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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 01:04 GMT 02:04 UK
Afghan king's wife dies in Rome
Former Afghan king Zahir Shah
The king's wife was to join him in Afghanistan
The wife of Afghan king Zahir Shah has died in Rome only a few weeks before she was to return to her homeland to be reunited with her husband.

Homaira Shah, 84-years-old, died two days after being admitted to hospital with breathing problems and heart trouble.


Her heart stopped beating earlier today, she is dead

Hospital official
She had lived in Rome with her husband since 1973, when the king was overthrown in a bloodless coup while on holiday.

The king had returned to Afghanistan in April, accompanied by interim leader Hamid Karzai, and received a warm welcome from his former subjects, although he insisted that he returned merely as a citizen of the troubled country.

'Devastated'

His wife had been due to join him in a few weeks, and the couple had been preparing to move into a house in Kabul.

Homaira Shah, who bore her husband nine children, had been waiting for the political situation in the country to stabilise before joining her husband.

Her body will now be flown to Afghanistan for burial.

"Everything was basically ready for her departure. Now we are just devastated," said her granddaughter Homaira Wali.


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16 Jun 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
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