Thousands mourn for slain soldier

2013-07-12 20:02
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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London - Thousands of people on Friday gathered for the funeral of British soldier Lee Rigby, who was murdered on a London street in May, by suspected Muslim extremists as he walked home to his barracks.

Rigby was "extremely popular" and "larger than life" his commanding officer Colonel Jim Taylor told the 800-strong congregation in Bury, near the northern city of Manchester.

The military funeral service, also attended by Prime Minister David Cameron, was relayed to the crowds outside by public speakers.

A military parade had on Thursday accompanied his coffin to the church in Bury, which has strong links to the 25-year-old's regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. His colleagues than held an overnight vigil.

The family of the father of one has been inundated with messages of public support since his killing on 22 May.

Footage of the broad-daylight killing, which some bystanders recorded as the alleged murderers shouted Islamist slogans, prompted international outrage.

Rigby's wife, Rebecca, said the response to his death had been "overwhelming”.

"There are so many kind and generous people out there," she said in an interview released on the day of the funeral.

"It's just horrible that it takes something such as this to make you see how many good people there are."

"Lee has become a hero," added his stepfather, Ian. "Whatever the intention was, it's backfired, because it's made Lee into the hero and the martyr."

Rigby had served as a machine-gunner in Afghanistan and in London had been performing ceremonial duties at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.

Two men - Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale - have been charged with his murder and are to stand trial in November.

- SAPA
Read more on:    lee rigby  |  michael adebolajo  |  david cameron  |  uk  |  london soldier attack
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