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Thousands throng Balasingham's funeral

December 21, 2006 01:13 IST

Thousands of Tamils in London on Wednesday paid their respects to Anton Balasingham, The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam theoretician and chief negotiator, who passed away on Thursday.

A stream of people filed past the body of Balasingham, which was lying in state at Alexandra Palace in north London.

In parallel, a funeral service was held in Vanni, in Sri Lanka with footage from each location being broadcast to the other, sources close to the LTTE leader said.

Balasingham's casket was placed at the front of the Palace's Great Hall on Wednesday.

It was escorted in by an honour guard, white gloved and dressed in black suits.

A brief initial ceremony was held attended by hundreds of Tamil activists, including many who had flown from other Tamil Diaspora centres around the world.

Activists then filed past, placing flower petals on Balasingham's body.

Families with children, youth and older Tamils were among those who paid respects.

Many wept openly, others prayed.

Some lifted young children so they could place petals on the body.

Expatriate Tamils from across Europe came here to pay their respects.

Several came in coaches from Switzerland, France and Germany.

Some even chartered planes to reach London, the sources said.

A number of Tamils from Canada, US and Australia reached here during the last two days. Later he was cremated at a private ceremony.
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