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dnice35

Pakistanian man put to sleep for the murder of 2 cia em

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QUETTA, Pakistan — Thousands of people packed a soccer stadium on Tuesday for the funeral of Aimal Kasi, a Pakistani man executed in Virginia last week for the 1993 murders of two CIA employees. Heavily armed police were on hand amid fears of an anti-American backlash.

As Kasi's body, draped in green cloth and sprinkled with flower petals, was brought into the stadium, an Islamic cleric began reciting verses from the Quran. About 20,000 people crowded the arena, and hundreds more were arriving by the minute.

Many pushed forward to catch a glimpse of Kasi's face. Black flags fluttered atop the stadium, and loudspeakers crackled with the cleric's sermon.

"Aimal Kasi was martyred by the imperialist America," said the cleric, Hussain Ahmed Sherodi. "Aimal Kasi's martyrdom has united Muslims against the United States."

Several placards were held aloft, one saying "Down with the U.S.A," and another reading "Shame, Shame, Bush!" Security was tight, but there was no immediate sign of violence and the crowd was somber during the funeral prayers.

After the prayers, thousands accompanied Kasi's body on the two-mile walk to the Kasi family's ancestral graveyard just outside of town.

Kasi was buried close to his father's grave at the old cemetery, his tearful family members looking on as the body was lowered into the ground. Afterward, the fresh grave was sprinkled with flower petals and water, in keeping with local tradition.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in the capital interrupted a parliamentary session to say a prayer for Kasi, regarded as a martyr and a hero by many here.

"May his soul be blessed and his family have patience," said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a lawmaker from a hardline Islamic bloc that came in third in Oct. 10 elections. "May those who handed him over (to the Americans) be destroyed."

Kasi was executed by lethal injection by the state of Virginia on Nov. 14 for the 1993 murders of two CIA employees -- communications worker Frank Darling, 28, and CIA analyst and physician Lansing Bennett, 66 -- as they sat in their cars at a stoplight. His body arrived in his hometown of Quetta on Monday and was brought to the family home, where relatives and supporters were in mourning.

The State Department has warned that Americans might be targeted for retaliation in the wake of the execution, but there have been no acts of violence so far, and Kasi's family has pleaded for peace. Four Americans were gunned down in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi after Kasi's 1997 conviction.

On Tuesday, bazaars in Quetta were closed following a call by a shop owners' association to shut their doors in protest of the execution.

Kasi fled the United States after killing the CIA men and spent most of the next 4 years hiding in and around the city of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. Pakistani security forces and FBI agents caught Kasi at a hotel while he was on a visit to Pakistan in 1997, and he was returned to the United States.

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