30 years later, Afghan leader reburied with honor

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Executed in a coup 30 years ago, buried hastily in a mass grave along with a small golden Quran, the man who turned Afghanistan from a monarchy into a republic returned on Tuesday in a flag-draped coffin to the same palace where he met his death.

The body of President Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan was unearthed after a former Afghan general involved in the secret burial pointed the way last year to two mass graves. In July 2008, graves were opened that held the bodies of the former leader and 17 family members and associates killed with him.

Daud Khan, whose shooting death ushered in an era of Soviet domination over the country that lasted for a decade, was identified by teeth molds _ but the key was the Quran, a gift from a Saudi king found along with the body in July 2008.

President Hamid Karzai, who directed the effort to identify his predecessor's remains, led Tuesday's ceremony, which began in the presidential palace where Daud Khan and his family were killed. Among those who attended were Karzai, his allies and political opponents, and the former president's surviving family members, along with international ambassadors.

An honor guard accompanied Daud Khan's body from the palace, with soldiers bearing the coffin and larger-than-life portraits. He was buried along with family members on a hillside overlooking the mountains that surround Kabul.

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