Arafat buried at his Ram Allah compound

Saturday 13 November 2004, 2:02 Makka Time, 23:02 GMT

Veteran Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has been laid to rest at his battered Muqataa compound in the West Bank town of Ram Allah.

Shortly after Arafat's coffin was lowered on Friday into a marble-and-stone grave, the crowd began a prayer joined by Palestinian leaders including newly appointed Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) chairman Mahmud Abbas and prime minister Ahmad Quraya.

Arafat had been due to lie in state ahead of burial, but the programme was disrupted by the chaos at the compound, where thousands of mourners surged past security forces.

"He was buried ahead of time because of the emotion of the crowd. We had no choice," one official said.

Wounded by gunfire

Thousands of mourners rushed to touch the coffin of Arafat

Ahead of the burial, thousands of mourners rushed to the coffin and police fired wildly into the air to disperse the crowd that held up the removal of his body from the aircraft that flew in from Egypt.

Medics said four people were wounded by gunfire in the crowd.

Arafat, who became a Third World liberation icon and won a Nobel Peace Prize, died at the age 75 in a French hospital on Thursday from an undetermined cause.

The chaotic scenes in Ram Allah were in sharp contrast to a funeral service earlier at a Cairo air base, where the public was kept away and even some world leaders were shut out by mistake by overzealous Egyptian guards.

A few kilometres from the burial site, an explosion in a car killed two people in a reminder of the continuing violence in the region.


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