KABUL, Afghanistan, March 9 (UPI) -- Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who has been the country's vice president twice, died Sunday, the presidential palace said. He was 57.
The Afghan government announced three days of national mourning for Fahim, who died of an undisclosed illness, and ordered the flag of Afghanistan flown at half staff, Khaama Press reported.
"With deep sadness, the 1st Vice President, Marshal M.Q. Fahim, has passed away. The government has declared a three-day mourning [period] from tomorrow," presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said in an online statement.
President Hamid Karzai called Fahim's death a major loss because he was a patriot and a great mujahid leader, Khaama Press said.
Fahim, born in Afghanistan's northern Panjshir province in 1957, has survived several assassination attempts, the most recent in 2009, Khaama Press said.
He was a commander for Ahmad Shah Massood during the fight against Soviet occupation.
He was the defense minister of the Afghan Transitional Administration, beginning in 2002, and was vice president from June 2002 to December 2004, his biography on Wikipedia indicated. Fahim was replaced by Abdul Rahim Wardak, who was appointed as defense minister in December 2004 when the transitional administration gave way to a popularly elected administration. Karzai picked Fahim as his running mate during his re-election campaign.