Ailing Myanmar prime minister is dead

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BANGKOK, Oct 14 (Reuters) Long ailing Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win has died and was to be buried at a state funeral today, official newspapers said.

They said the 59-year-old general died on Friday. They gave no cause of death, but he was believed to have been suffering from leukaemia and had been to Singapore several times for treatment.

''It is hereby announced a period of official mourning will be observed for three days from 12 to 14 of October 2007,'' an official announcement in state-run newspapers said.

Soe Win, who replaced the purged Khin Nyunt in 2004, had been out of the political picture for months.

His place was taken by Acting Prime Minister Thein Sein, who met United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari earlier this month on his mission to end a military crackdown on peaceful mass protests.

Soe Win was a close confidante of junta strongman Than Shwe and first sprang to prominence when the army crushed a student-led uprising against military rule in 1988, when an estimated 3,000 people were killed.

He was also believed to have been behind the bloody attack on supporters of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in 2003 that led to her latest detention. She has been in detention of one form or another for 12 of the last 18 years.

REUTERS ARB RK1306

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