Iraqi Kurds mourn death of leader Talabani, symbol of unity

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IRBIL, Iraq – Iraqi Kurdish officials say Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region has declared a week of mourning after the death of former president, Jalal Talabani.

Sadi Ahmed Pire, a spokesman for the Kurdish party which Talabani headed, says flags will fly at half-staff on Wednesday. Talabani's burial in the city of Sulaimaniyah is planned for this weekend.

Seen as a unifying elder statesman who could soothe tempers among Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, Talabani suffered a stroke in 2012 after which he was moved to Germany for treatment and faded from Iraq's political life.

He died in a Berlin hospital on Tuesday afternoon, at the age of 83, after his condition deteriorated rapidly.

His death comes days after Iraqi Kurds' controversial referendum on independence that has angered Baghdad and the region.

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