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Prominent Cambodian Buddhist Monk Dies in US Hospital

A Cambodian monk who played a key role in helping rebuild Buddhism in his country after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime has died.

Two senior monks close to Maha Ghosananda told VOA Khmer Service that he passed away Monday in a hospital in Massachusetts of complications arising from an earlier stroke.

Ghosananda's age was not immediately available, but a close friend told the Associated Press that he was 81.

Ghosananda was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize for leading peace and reconciliation marches in Cambodia in the 1990s. The marches united people from all walks of life.

Ghosananda was one of the first monks to return to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge fell. He lived in exile between 1975 and 1979, when the Khmer Rouge denounced Buddhism and led a radical campaign to establish a classless, agrarian society. Nearly two million people, including thousands of monks, died from execution, overwork, disease and starvation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.