SARAJEVO (AFP) - Bosnia's wartime president, Alija Izetbegovic, died in a Sarajevo hospital at age 78, the Muslim member of Bosnia's presidency, Sulejman Tihic, told journalists.
"President Izetbegovic passed away," Tihic told reporters gathered outside the Sarajevo hospital where he had been admitted last month with four broken ribs.
"I just met with his family and we will soon start to arrange details for his funeral," he added.
Bosnian television and radio stations interrupted their programming to announce the death of Izetbegovic, the hero of Muslim resistance during the siege of Sarajevo who led his country to independence from communist Yugoslavia.
Izetbegovic's health had steadily deteriorated since his September 10 admission to hospital after he fainted in his house and cracked four ribs.
He suffered internal haemorraging in his chest and blood circulation problems in his left leg, and had been placed in intensive care on Wednesday.
Mr Izetbegovic had a long history of heart disease, and had received treatment in Slovenia and Saudi Arabia.
Elected chairman of Bosnia's collective presidency in 1990, Izetbegovic was a key figure during the country's 1992-95 war when some 200,000 people died and more than two million were forced out of their homes.
He won worldwide sympathy by running the government from sandbagged buildings during the three-and-a-half-year-long siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serbs, under constant threat from their artillery and sniper attacks.
The short, blue-eyed Muslim walked to his office through the bombardment, believing, according to those who knew him, that death would come when Allah willed it.
Together with the then-Croatian president Franjo Tudjman and former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Izetbegovic participated in marathon peace negotiations in the US city of Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995 led by the US diplomat Richard Holbrooke. These resulted in a peace accord for Bosnia.