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Vietnamese people mourned the death of legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap, who died on Friday aged 102.

A national hero, self-taught Giap enjoyed a legacy second only to that of his mentor, founding president and independence leader Ho Chi Minh

Critics saw him as ruthless: willing to accept immense losses among his own forces. His defenders said his strategic ability and astute tactics won wars against enemies whose resources dwarfed those of a peasant army.

“Surrender” is not a word in my vocabulary, he once said. In Giap’s words, any army fighting for freedom “had the creative energy to achieve things its adversary can never expect or imagine.”

Giap defeated French forces in 1954 helping end French colonial rule in the Indochina region.

He defeated the US-backed South Vietnam government in 1975, reuniting a country that had been split into communist and non-communist states.

When neigbouring China invaded in 1978, Giap helped organise the
defence, driving back the Chinese with heavy losses.

Truong Quoc Dinh, veteran of the war against the US told euronews:

“The moment I heard about the news, I rushed here to get a newspaper. I couldn’t believe it but it’s true that he’s gone. I’m waiting for more information when I can go and pay tribute to our great general,” he said.

In a 2004 interview with Reuters, Giap recalled that on a visit to the United Nations in Geneva, he was handed a book to sign. “I wrote…and signed Vo Nguyen Giap, General of Peace.”

Giap died of natural causes after several years in a Hanoi military hospital.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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