Tens of thousands of Algerians massed in a mountain village for a chaotic burial ceremony of a national hero of the brutal independence war with France.

Hocine Ait Ahmed, who spent nearly a quarter-century in exile in Europe, was buried on Friday in the Kabyle village where he was born, a day after his remains arrived in Algiers, the Algerian capital. Ait Ahmed, 89, the country's leading opposition figure, died Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Ait Ahmed had requested a burial in his native village, Ath Ahmedh, next to his mother's grave. The ceremony transformed into a scene of chaos as crowds flooded the winding mountain roads to view the flag-draped coffin.

Ait Ahmed had been the last of nine heroes of the independence war to die.