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Body Of Slain Afghan President Finally Identified

KABUL (Reuters) -- Afghan authorities have identified the body of former President Mohammad Daud Khan, who was slain in a communist-backed coup three decades ago along with some members of his family, an official said.

The finding was made by a government-appointed commission after six months of excavation at a military base on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, said Ahmad Farid Raaid of the Public Health Ministry.

Daud Khan, Afghanistan's first president, was shot dead in the presidential palace in a military coup in April 1978.

Many Afghans see it as one of their country's darkest days, because it was followed by a decade of Soviet occupation, civil war, and the rise of the Taliban, who were toppled by U.S.-led troops in 2001.

Some 2 million people are believed to have been killed since the 1978 coup and more than 6 million have fled the country.

Daud Khan came to power in a coup himself when he overthrew his cousin Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan, in 1973.

He tried to counter the influence of Islamists and established a republic, introducing reforms, and eventually favored relations with the West over the Soviet Union.

The government and Daud Khan's family members will decide over a place for reburying the former president and those found in the two mass graves, Raaid said.