Afghan Leader Massood Buried

JANGALAK, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's legendary guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massood, the "Lion of Panjsher," was buried near his home village Sunday amid scenes of intense grief and calls for revenge.

Massood, military leader of the Northern Alliance, the main opposition to Afghanistan's ruling Islamic Taliban movement, was officially declared dead Saturday after being fatally wounded in an assassination attempt Sept. 9.

By 7 a.m. large crowds had already gathered in an open space in the village of Jangalak in the heart of the Panjsher Valley, Massood's military stronghold.

Seemingly every car in the area bore a picture of Massood with the inscription: "Massood the Hero, you are the pride of every Afghan. Your death has broken our hearts. We are going to follow your ways."

As the crowds built up, Massood's 13-year-old son, also called Ahmad, appeared before them, a picture of calm and dignity.

"I want to follow the path of my father and to pursue the independence of my country," he said as men around him wept.

Burhanuddin Rabbani, official leader of the Northern Alliance for which Massood provided the muscle, blamed Massood's death on the Taliban and their supporters across the border in Pakistan.

"The Taliban are under the control of [exiled Saudi-born militant] Osama bin Laden and Pakistan. Such people will be eradicated at once if God is willing," he said.

Massood's body then arrived by helicopter and was loaded onto a gun carriage as mourners pushed and struggled to get near their hero.

Thousands followed the body in brilliant sunshine down the valley that, under Massood, has held out against Soviet invaders and the Taliban for over 20 years.

As the cortege moved toward the area where the funeral service was held, a voice bellowed over a loudspeaker: "Death to Pakistan. Death to the Taliban. Death to Osama. We will fight for our freedom to the very end."

Massood died in an Afghan hospital from wounds suffered in a suicide bomb attack by two men posing as Arab journalists. He was 48. His fate had been unclear until the official announcement Saturday.

The attack on Massood came just two days before hijackers killed thousands of people in New York and Washington in sophisticated suicide attacks for which increasing evidence is pointing toward bin Laden, who has been given refuge by the Taliban.

Massood was the main military obstacle to the Taliban goal of rule over all of Afghanistan. Since the assassination attempt, the Taliban appear to have stepped up their attacks against Massood's comrades, the last cohesive military force facing the hard-line Islamic group.

Rabbani's government is recognized by the United Nations, to the anger of the Taliban. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan.