Uzbek President Islam Karimov gestures after greeting US Secretary of State John Kerry at Samarkand Airport on Nov. 1, 2015.
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images
September 2, 2016 8:31 AM EDT

Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan, has died, according to the Turkish government.

BBC reports that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced Friday that Karimov had died.

“Uzbek President Islam Karimov has passed away. May God’s mercy be upon him, as the Turkish Republic we are sharing the pain and sorrow of Uzbek people,” the Turkish Prime Minister said in a cabinet meeting broadcast live on Friday.

Three diplomatic sources also confirmed Karimov’s death to Reuters, although the Uzbek government has not confirmed the reports.

Karimov, 78, has not appeared in public since August 17. He has been in the hospital since last Saturday after suffering a stroke, Reuters reports, and the Uzbek government did confirm that he was critically ill.

Karimov has not designated a successor. He has held tight authoritarian rule over the nation, which borders Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, since 1989.

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