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Saudi King Fahd is dead

  |   Aug. 1, 2005 at 6:25 AM
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Saudi King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz died Monday in a Riyadh hospital after a long illness, sending the price of oil soaring over $61 a barrel. His death, at times erroneously reported in the past, was announced on official Saudi television early Monday morning. The king was 83.

The funeral will take place on Tuesday.

Information Minister Ayad Madani later announced that the royal al-Saud family immediately pledged allegiance to Crown Prince Abdullah, declaring him the new king and Custodian of the two Holy Shrines -- Mecca and Medina.

"After that, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, appointed defense minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz as his crown prince," Madani said.

Abdullah has been Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruling since the late King Fahd suffered a severe stroke in 1995 that weakened him physically and mentally.

Fahd entered hospital last May 27 after suffering severe pneumonia.

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