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WASHINGTON: Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state and top military officer, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated, his family said in a statement on Facebook.

"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," his family said, thanking the staff of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre near Washington who treated Powell, but providing few details about his illness.

Powell was one of America's most prominent Black figures for decades. He served three Republican presidents in senior posts and reached the top of the U.S. military as it was regaining its vigor after the trauma of the Vietnam War.

Colin Powell dies of Covid-19 complications

He was the top U.S. general when US-led forces drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991 and the chief U.S. diplomat when Washington relied on erroneous intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In a brief statement, the Powell family said he had died on Monday morning from COVID-19, had been fully vaccinated against the disease, and thanked the medical staff who cared for him. The statement did not address such matters as what vaccine he received or whether he had gotten a booster shot, when he fell ill, when he may have been hospitalized and whether he may have had underlying health conditions that contributed to his illness. U.S. news organizations reported that Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that reduces the body's ability to fight infection. Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports. Condolences poured in from Democrats as well as Powell's fellow Republicans, including former President George W. Bush. "Many presidents relied on General Powell's counsel and experience," Bush wrote in a statement. "He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom - twice."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair recalled Powell's self-deprecating humor, his kindness to his staff and his "willingness to work across partisan division in the interests of his country".

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