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Analysis of Allende remains confirms suicide verdict

An analysis of the exhumed remains of former Chilean president Salvador Allende has confirmed that he committed suicide during the September 1973 coup against his regime that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.

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AFP - Experts studying the remains of Salvador Allende concluded the former president committed suicide as soldiers involved in a 1973 coup closed in on the presidential palace, the late leader's daughter said Tuesday.

"The conclusion is the same one that the Allende family had already reached," said Senator Isabel Allende.

"On September 11, 1973, faced with extreme circumstances, he made the decision to take his own life instead of being humiliated," Isabel Allende told reporters.

Chile in May exhumed Allende's remains hoping to resolve a decades-old controversy over whether he committed suicide or was murdered during the coup that swept General Augusto Pinochet to power.

The official version was that Allende killed himself with an assault rifle -- a gift from Cuban leader Fidel Castro -- as the La Moneda presidential palace was being bombed by Air Force planes and besieged by tanks and soldiers.

But neither the weapon nor bullets were recovered following his death, and Pinochet's military regime prevented Allende's family from seeing his corpse after the coup. There was no criminal investigation into his death.

Most supporters claimed that Allende chose to commit suicide rather than surrender and be forced to resign. However Fidel Castro, other leftist leaders and some media outlets maintained that Allende was killed by oncoming soldiers.

The leftist Allende was elected president of Chile in 1970. He was 65 at the time of his death.

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