A sea of mourners filled the cemetery in Sulaibekhat, west of Kuwait City, for the funeral of Shaikh Basel Salem Al Sabah whose murder on Thursday evening plunged Kuwait into shock, grief and anger.

Senior members of the ruling family in Kuwait, friends and common people gathered at the cemetery to pay tribute to the slain prince as security agencies launched their investigations into the unprecedented killing of a senior prince by a member of the family.

Shaikh Basel, 52, was shot several times, up to eight according to some reports, by his much younger uncle, Shaikh Faisal Abdullah Al Sabah, 32, late on Thursday allegedly following an argument over a joint business deal in which the uncle and the nephew had partnered to sell luxurious cars.

However, another report claimed that the argument was related to the composition of a new board of the quarter mile drag racing club and in which the killer, the former deputy chair, was not re-appointed.

The club members had been allegedly invited by the slain prince to his Messilah palace in Kuwait City to have dinner and discuss the club board composition, one Kuwaiti report said.

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Shaikh Basel was the spiritual father of car racing in Kuwait and he had been pushing for the construction of a motor racing track for young car enthusiasts in the country.

Despite blatant divergences, all reports emanating from Kuwait City agreed that the shooting was not politically motivated.

Police arrested Shaikh Faisal, a military intelligence officer, but reportedly could not gather enough information about the lethal incident after the suspect remained silent under the onslaught of the shock.

One report said that Shaikh Faisal became hysterical when investigators confirmed his nephew's death and that he was still in a state of deep denial.

Several senior Kuwaiti princes had to cut short their business or vacation trips abroad to attend the funeral on Saturday shortly before noon and, according to one report, the Emir sent his private plane to bring home relatives who were in Europe.

The Emir was informed about the shooting shortly after he hosted a dinner banquet in honour of Sultan Qaboos of Oman who was on a visit to the country.

Shaikh Basel is the grandson of Kuwait's 12th Emir, Shaikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah who ruled from November 24, 1965 until December 31, 1977, and the eldest son of Shaikh Salem Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah and Shaikha Badriya Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah.

His father was Kuwait's ambassador to the United States, Canada and Venezuela from 1970 until 1975. He then held the portfolios of social affairs and labour, interior, defence and foreign affairs until 2001 when he gave up political work on health grounds.

Beside the thousands of Kuwaitis who attended the funeral in Kuwait City, many also mourned Shaikh Basel online, using blogs and websites to write messages of condolences and sympathies with his family and offer prayers for his soul.

Gulf News