Vietnamese bid final farewell to war hero General Giap

Vietnamese bid final farewell to war hero General Giap
Soldiers hold up the portrait of the late General Vo Nguyen Giap as his coffin (background) is carried during his funeral ceremony at the National Funeral House in Hanoi on October 13, 2013. Millions of people lined the streets of Hanoi, chanting, crying, waving and praying as they bid farewell to Vietnam's revered independence hero Vo Nguyen Giap. Military trucks carried Giap's flag-draped coffin through the capital as part of Vietnam's biggest state funeral in decades, which comes as the one-party state seeks to co-opt the popular general's legacy to bolster its own legitimacy.

QUANG BINH , Vietnam - Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lined the streets Sunday for the funeral of independence hero General Vo Nguyen Giap, who orchestrated the country's stunning wartime victories over France and the United States.

Giap's coffin, draped in Vietnam's flag, was lowered into a grave in a remote coastal area of his native Quang Binh province, after a day which saw vast crowds - at times 10 or 20 deep - swarm to pay their respects as his body was brought from Hanoi.

Mourners in the capital had earlier fallen to their knees in prayer or shouted "Long live General Giap!", as the funeral cortege drove to the city's airport to make the 500-kilometre (310 miles) journey south for burial.

Giap, who died aged 102 on October 4, was the architect of Vietnam's battlefield victories over France and the US. The one-party communist state has tried to harness the popular general's legacy to bolster its own legitimacy.

"(Giap) is the general of the People and his name will be forever engraved in the history of the nation," Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong said in a televised speech on Sunday.

His death was "a great loss" for Vietnam, Trong added, speaking before the procession at the Hanoi Funeral House, where the general's body lay in state overnight.

Hordes more people, many bearing bunches of yellow flowers, greeted the coffin's arrival in Quang Binh and lined the main highway from the airport to the private burial site in Vung Chua.

Nguyen Van Hien, 45, said he had walked many miles from a neighbouring province to say goodbye to Giap, who was lauded as a military genius for the guerrilla tactics that inspired resistance movements around the world.

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