The government of Uzbekistan on Friday confirmed the death of President Islam Karimov, BBC reported. The announcement came after much speculation over his health. The Uzbek administration had earlier said that the leader was critically ill and that his health had sharply deteriorated in the past 24 hours.

Local media reports had said there were strong indications that the 78-year-old had died last week. Earlier in the day, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had announced that Karimov had died, even though there had been no confirmation from the government then. "As the Turkish Republic, we are sharing the pain and sorrow of [the] Uzbek people," Yildirim had said.

Karimov was hospitalised on August 27, and a day later, his daughter had said he had suffered a brain haemorrhage. The authoritarian leader helmed the country since its freedom from the Soviet Union in 1991. He will be buried on Saturday in Samarkand, his home city, Uzbek state TV reported.