Ariel Sharon dies in hospital

Former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon died at a hospital near Tel Aviv on Saturday, aged of 85, after spending eight years in a coma, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Sheba hospital, where he was being treated, but a spokesman said a statement would be given at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT).

Sharon has been in a coma since January 4, 2006 after suffering a massive stroke. His condition took a sudden turn for the worse on January 1 when he suffered serious kidney problems after surgery.

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