August 1, 2005

Saudi King Fahd dies in hospital -diplomat

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi state television interrupted
regular broadcasting with recitations of the Koran and one
Western diplomat said he had information that King Fahd had
died in hospital on Monday.

"Sources at King Faisal Specialist Hospital have informed
us that he (King Fahd) is dead," the diplomat said. He did not
give further details.

A Saudi official source told Reuters that a member of the
royal family had died on Monday.

"Most probably it is the king, everybody is waiting for the
official announcement. We are all in a state of alert," he

Fahd, who was believed to be 83 and had been in poor
health, entered hospital on May 27 with acute pneumonia. Saudi
Arabia is the world's biggest oil exporter and is a close ally
of the United States.

Fahd's half-brother Crown Prince Abdullah, who has been
running the kingdom's day-to-day affairs since Fahd suffered a
stroke in 1995, will automatically become king. Defense
Minister Prince Sultan will be the new crown prince.

In the past two years, the kingdom has faced a violent al
Qaeda campaign to end seven decades of the royal family's rule
in Saudi Arabia, home to two of Islam's holiest shrines.