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Ex-King of Afghanistan’s Wife Dies

June 26, 2002

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ROME (AP) _ Homaira Shah, the former queen of Afghanistan and wife of ex-monarch Mohammad Zaher Shah, died Wednesday in Rome. She was 84.

Shah suffered a heart attack after having been hospitalized earlier this week with a fever, said her granddaughter, Homaira Wali.

Homaira Shah, who had lived with her husband in Rome since he was ousted from power in 1973, didn’t follow the king on his historic return to Afghanistan in April because of her deteriorating health.

She had, however, planned to return, Wali said.

Now, the family is trying to bring her body back to Kabul for burial _ hopefully in the next three to four days, Wali said in a telephone interview.

``We are trying to get her back as soon as possible,″ Wali said, adding that her grandmother would be buried in the bullet-scarred royal tomb on a hill overlooking the capital.

The tomb was one of the first places Zaher Shah visited after he ended his 29-year exile and returned to Kabul on April 18.

The monarch returned to convene a traditional tribal assembly, or loya jirga, which ended earlier this month. The meeting selected interim leader Hamid Karzai to run the country until elections.

Zaher Shah and his family moved to Rome following a 1973 coup by his cousin that ended his 40-year reign.

He and his family lived in a comfortable home in a gated community outside Rome, surrounded by relatives and a small core of advisers _ many of whom followed the ex-monarch back to Kabul.

During his rule, Zaher Shah was credited with helping to modernize Afghanistan with the creation of a constitutional monarchy and reforms that gave women the right to vote, work and receive an education.

Many Afghans had looked to the ex-royal family’s return as a symbolic end to the two decades of war that plagued Afghanistan following Zaher Shah’s ouster.

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