SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan will bury President Islam Karimov on Saturday, after his death plunged the Central Asian nation into the greatest period of uncertainty in its post-Soviet history with no clear successor to the iron-fisted ruler. Karimov, 78, was pronounced dead late Friday after he suffered a stroke last weekend and fell into a coma, authorities said, following days of speculation that officials were delaying making his death public. The Islamic funeral for the strongman—who dominated the ex-Soviet nation for some 27 years—is being held in his home city of Samarkand, central Uzbekistan, Saturday and the country will begin three days of mourning. An AFP journalist in the famed Silk Road city—which houses the mausoleum of feared 14th century warlord Tamerlane—said police had cordoned off the center and were not letting ordinary citizens or cars through. Despite his brutal quarter-century rule earning him a reputation abroad as one of the region’s most savage despots who ruthlessly stamped out opposition, people in Karimov’s hometown mourned his passing and some youths wore black clothes.