Afghanistan First Vice President Qasim Fahim Dies From Illness

Mohammad Qasim Fahim, the anti-Taliban commander who served as Afghanistan’s first vice president, died from an illness according to President Hamid Karzai’s office.

“It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing away of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim,” the president said in a statement today. His death in the capital, Kabul, is “a great loss for Afghanistan.”

Karzai declared three days of national mourning and flags will fly at half staff starting today, according to the statement.

“Certainly his demise will affect Karzai’s administration as the country is preparing for the presidential elections,” due in April 5, Sayed Ali Kazimi, a member of parliament, said today in a phone interview. “It may slow down the process of the elections and political development.”

Fahim served Karzai’s first transitional administration as a defense minister and vice-president until 2004. He took up the post of first vice president in 2009.

As an anti-Taliban commander, Fahim served under Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance commander killed in an al-Qaeda suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He also fought against Soviet troops alongside Massoud in the 1980s.

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