PARIS (AP) _ Auguste Lecoeur, a leading member of the French Resistance during World War II and a top official of France's Communist Party for nearly 30 years, has died, the daily Le Monde reported today.

He was 80, and died on Sunday. No cause of death was provided.

Born in Lille on Sept. 4, 1911, Lecoeur was a militant communist and active member of the miners union by age 16.

Recognizing his organizational talents, the Communist Party sent him to join the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War and he served as a batallion commander.

Lecoeur joined the French Resistance in 1940, and organized a nationwide miners strike in 1941, the first such action under Nazi occupation. He also continued work with the underground leadership of the French Communist Party until France was liberated.

After the war, he rose quickly in the party ranks, was elected mayor of Lens in northern France and a National Assembly deputy from the Pas-de-Calais region.

At the height of his career in 1952, Lecoeur was the No. 3 leader of the party and was being groomed to be a future secretary general. But in 1954, he was expelled following a dispute with then-party leader, Maurice Thorez.

After his expulsion, he led the tiny Socialist Democracy Party and wrote books.

Lecoeur is survived by his three children. He will be buried in the town of Crissey. No other funeral details were available.