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Abdus Samad Azad, ex-foreign minister of Bangladesh; 83

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- About 10,000 mourners attended the funeral yesterday of Abdus Samad Azad, a former foreign minister and Bangladeshi independence hero, who died Wednesday. He was 83.

He died at BIRDEM Hospital, where he was admitted in February with an undisclosed ailment.

As a special envoy of the country's government-in-exile during its nine-month independence war against Pakistan in 1971, Mr. Azad traveled the world to mobilize international support for Bangladesh's liberation.

Mr. Azad was a foreign minister and later agriculture minister in Bangladesh's first government led by independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971.

After Rahman's assassination in a 1975 coup, Mr. Azad was arrested and imprisoned for three years by the new military rulers. He was appointed foreign minister again in 1996 when Rahman's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, led his Awami League party back to power after 21 years.

He served several terms in Parliament and was a key member of Awami League, currently Bangladesh's largest opposition party.

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