The vice president of Afghanistan, Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, has passed away at the age of 56. The government has announced that Fahim died of natural causes.
Afghanistan's presidential spokesperson confirmed the death of Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim on Sunday via his Twitter account.
"The first vicepresident Marshal MQ Fahim has passed away. May his soul rest in peace," presidential spokesperson Aimal Faizi said on Twitter.
"The government of Afghanistan has called for a three-day national mourning," he said.
The national flag will be hung at half-mast during the mourning period.
Local media reported that Fahim, who suffered from diabetes, had died of a heart attack.
Vice President Fahim played a prominent role in politics in Afghanistan over the past decade. With strong support from US troops who invaded the country in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack, Fahim led the powerful Northern Alliance resistance group, which took over Kabul from the Taliban in 2001. Critics accused the ethnic Tajik of being a ruthless strongman and maintaining his own militia.
Fahim served as defense minister and then, beginning in 2009, as vice president to President Hamid Karzai. Karzai is due to step down next month for general elections ahead of the withdrawal of NATO combat forces.
kms/tj (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)